As we age, we all eventually experience some physical and mental deterioration that comes along with the natural aging process. For some of us, that natural deterioration is more pronounced or may be accompanied by cognitive decline caused by Alzheimer’s or another age-related form of dementia. Noticing your own physical and/or mental decline is never easy. Realizing that it may impact your ability to drive can be downright traumatic for an older individual. Nevertheless, it is important to keep yourself and others on the roadway safe and to abide by the laws that apply to older drivers. With that in mind, an Indianapolis attorney at Frank & Kraft discusses what you need to know about older drivers in Indiana.
What Does Your Driver’s License Mean to You?
Remember when you were a teenager and you counted the months, then days, until you could get your driver’s license? That little plastic card opened up a whole new world to you. For decades after that, you likely took your ability to drive for granted, giving it little thought as you grew older. If you are now in your “Golden Years,” however, the issue of your driving privileges may once again be in the forefront in your thoughts. This time though, you are not anxiously counting down the days until you are allowed to drive. Instead, you are now worried that your ability to drive will be taken away from you.
Just as getting your driver’s license as a teenager became a symbol of freedom and independence for you, the thought of losing your license probably fills you with fear and dread because you will once again become dependent on others for transportation. Even if you rarely drive anywhere anymore, the knowledge that you can get in your vehicle and drive somewhere if you want remains a powerful symbol of freedom for you. That makes it all the harder to recognize the physical and mental changes associated with aging that can ultimately affect your ability to safely drive.
Recognize the Signs
Whether you accepted aging gracefully or went kicking and screaming into your senior years, it can be very difficult to force yourself to look for signs that indicate it may be time to give up your driver’s license, such as:
- Worsening eyesight
- Slower reaction time
- Feeling nervous or scared when driving.
- Anxiety when you know you will need to drive.
- Confusion on streets that should be familiar.
- Taking medication that makes you drowsy.
- Comments by loved ones indicating concern about your driving.
Indiana Older Drivers Law
Like many other states, the State of Indiana has enacted several provisions to the law that address the potential risks associated with older drivers. For example, while younger drivers are only required to renew their driver’s license every six years, drivers must start renewing every three years, in person, when they reach age 75, and every two years at age 85. In addition, drivers over the age of 75 must take a vision test every time they renew their driver’s license.
Another important aspect of Indiana law as it pertains to older drivers is the Driver Ability Program. This program allows the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to initiate an investigation to consider the invalidation, revocation, or restriction of a driver’s privileges upon a written request for driver ability review. Anyone with personal knowledge of the driver may request a review. As part of the investigation, the BMV will send the driver a Medical Review Form that must be completed by the driver’s primary care or treating physician (one who knows their medical history). After receiving the completed form, the BMV may continue the investigation and ask for additional information or even require the driver to complete a behind the wheel driving evaluation. Ultimately, the investigation may result in no action being taken, restrictions added to the driver’s privileges, or even revocation of driving privileges altogether.
Do You Have Elder Law Questions?
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have questions about the Indiana older drivers laws or other elder law concerns, contact an experienced Indianapolis elder law attorney at Frank & Kraft by calling (317) 684-1100 to schedule an appointment.