When Should the Elderly Give Up their Driver's License

When Should the Elderly Give Up their Driver's License?

August 9, 2021 | by the National Care Planning Council

Aging seniors dread the day they will lose more of their independence by having to give up their driver's license. Unfortunately, no longer being safe behind the wheel is a difficult reality aging seniors must face. According to the CDC, the risk of being in a traffic accident increases as people age.

Older adults are more than twice as likely to report having a medical problem that makes it difficult to drive, compared with people aged 24-64. In 2018, almost 7,700 older adults (aged 65+) were killed in traffic crashes, and more than 250,000 were treated in emergency departments for crash injuries. This means that each day, more than 20 older adults are killed and almost 700 are injured in crashes.

Here are some declining physical and mental abilities a family caregiver should consider when preparing to broach the subject and have a candid talk about the right time for one to give up his or her driver's license.


Having issues seeing? Quality of prescription lenses? Consulting an optometrist about vision is vital. If they don't wear corrective lenses, encourage them to do so. An optometrist may find other issues, such as cataracts or glaucoma. Cannot see clearly at night? You may need to restrict driving to day-time only.


Having trouble focusing on the road? A doctor may recommend a prescription to help.

Response Time

Is response time delayed long enough to cause issues?


Having issues hearing? Hearing aids? Get it checked to make sure it's tuned correctly and the batteries are working well. If they don't wear a hearing aid, you may consider looking into it. Visit a doctor about their hearing issues. Other alternatives, such as wax blockage may be the reason they are having hearing issues.

Tremors or Limb Weakness

Have tremors or weakness in your limbs? This may impair their ability to stop or control the car safely.

Prescription Medication

Take regular prescription medication may impair judgment, cause drowsiness or hallucinate. Visit a doctor. There may be medication alternatives.

Poor driving

Drifting into other lanes? Unable to merge? Increase in dents or dings in their vehicle? Increase in traffic incidences? Inability to properly judge how much space one needs to brake? Unable to see the lines in the road? Increased fear? Trouble pushing the gas or brakes? Trouble turning the steering wheel? Having more 'close calls'? Collisions with non-moving objects (sings, barriers, mailboxes, parked vehicles)?

How to surrender a driver's license

This can be done at your loved one's local DMV. They will need a State Issued ID for other purposes. Their local DMV Driver's License division may require you to make an appointment.

Remember to have someone accompany your loved one to the DMV. When they leave, they will no longer will have a valid license.

Benefits of Giving Up Your License

The obvious benefit to giving up a driver's license is driver and community safety. However, many people don't realize how much it actually costs to have a vehicle. When you're on a fixed income after retirement, some welcome the much needed savings.

According to AAA's 2015 Your Driving Costs study, an average vehicle driven up to 15,000 miles a year costs $8,398. This cost includes things such as fuel, tires, maintenance and repairs, taxes, license, registration fees, insurance premiums, depreciation, interest/financing.

Depending on your loved one's driving record, vehicle size, how often they drive it, their costs can be higher than the average noted in the AAA study. The cost broken down is about $725 a month, what could your loved one do with that extra money?


Surrendering one's driving privileges does not have to be as hard as some believe. There are alternatives to driving that can make the transition easier. So what can be done if driving is no longer an option?

Public Transportation

Every major and even most smaller cities have a busing system. Libraries and local city buildings usually carry schedules.


This is more readily available in larger cities. Smaller cities usually have taxi services, you just have to call for a pickup.


Much like a taxi service, you have transportation at the palm of your hand with these apps for your smart phone.


Most car rides are things down the street. Why not walk instead.


This is a low cost option for anyone who needs to go out. Tricycle offer more stability than tradition bicycles and are usually free standing. Tricycles also can accommodate a larger basket size so you can take your pet with you or tote around groceries.


Many cities offer a paratransit option. This means if you are unable to drive due to disability, you can get picked up and dropped off for a small fee. You will need to call your local transportation office to see if you qualify and set it up.

Golf Carts

Smaller towns or private communities often allow you to use golf carts or ATVs to get around in town. The benefit to this is most of them drive at a much slower pace. Some states will require you to have a license whether you are on public or private roads, you should ask when you are at the DMV. Check with your local police or city for rules.


Transportation Services

Most county's area on aging and senior centers can recommend transportation services for specific needs. You can find their number online and most city offices will have this information as well.

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