My Dad turns 80 next month and his driver’s license is up for renewal. Our family is hoping the RMV doesn’t renew his license because we think his driving is dangerous, but he insists on driving. What can we do?
In the United States, getting one’s driver’s license is a rite of passage. Access to a car or other vehicle allows great freedom and independence: to go where we wish, do what we wish, and do it on our own schedules. Understandably, when we, or our elderly dependents, are told we can no longer drive, there will be a good deal of resistance.
In Massachusetts, there is no specific age at which a driver’s license is automatically revoked. However, beginning at age seventy-five, drivers must renew their license in-person rather than online. At the RMV, such a driver will have to undergo a vision test, or otherwise bring proof of a vision screening with a qualified provider. For the most part, though, Massachusetts relies on drivers to self-report any age-related disabilities or impairments. If a senior driver voluntarily surrenders their license, they will receive a free Massachusetts state identification card.
For families concerned about an elderly parent or other relative, there are limited options. There is an official way to report a medically impaired driver and request that the state force them to submit to a medical examination. While family members may use this form, it is mostly geared towards medical and law enforcement professionals who have a concerning encounter with a senior driver.
With the official report, there is always the risk that the senior driver will be found just-barely competent to drive which doesn’t help the family who is just trying to keep their senior safe.