The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) extended the expiration dates of driver’s licenses for drivers 70 years of age and older as part of an effort to support the current shelter-in-place guidelines.
“I am thrilled to see the DMV provide this relief for some of our most vulnerable community members,” California State Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (AD-16) said. “My office has heard from many concerned local seniors about their expiring driver’s licenses, and it is vital that we are able to keep them healthy and safe during this crisis. I am glad that we were able to find this resolution.”
Drivers who meet the age requirement and have a noncommercial license that expires between March 1 and Dec. 31 will receive an automatic one-year extension. This action is the latest in a series of expiration date extensions the DMV announced as policies evolve to meet rapidly changing conditions and restrictions resulting from the pandemic.
“The one-year extension for senior drivers is the latest action DMV has taken to help protect the health and safety of our senior population during the COVID-19 pandemic,” DMV Director Steve Gordon said. “Online services and extensions give our customers the ability to stay home and stay safe.”
New licenses will not be issued; applicants are not required to drive. Starting July 15, drivers will have the option of requesting a temporary paper extension by visiting the DMV website. Drivers with a suspended license do not qualify for the extension.
“If I used one word, it would be ‘relief,’” said senior advocate Marla Luckhardt. “Nobody really wants to go out, wait inside and be in line with a bunch of strangers. I think ‘relief’ is the key word on this, and also a lot of gratitude to see that (seniors) are being considered. Sometimes the needs of older people are forgotten, so I think it’s a very positive thing, and I’m really delighted they did this.”
For drivers with travel plans, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) stated that expired driver’s licenses will be accepted as a form of identification at TSA checkpoints for up to one year after expiration. The TSA additionally announced a one-year delay in the REAL ID implementation. The REAL ID came out of the REAL ID Act, which places new rules on which forms of identification may be used to board flights in the U.S. Beginning Oct. 1, 2021, any person over the age of 18 will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or another acceptable form of ID to fly within the U.S.
The latest policy for expiration date extensions for drivers under the age of 70 was announced in May. The current policy for those drivers holding a noncommercial license expiring between March and July 2020 allows the expiration to be advanced to July 31, 2020.
“Older Americans today are healthier and more active than ever before,” said Sergio Avila, public relations specialist with AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah. “The aging Baby Boomer generation is the fastest-growing demographic in the U.S. By 2030, there will be more than 70 million people aged 65 and older, and approximately 85 to 90% of them will be licensed to drive.”
Commercial drivers also received expiration extensions, though the process differs from that of noncommercial drivers. The DMV announced July 1 that it is issuing an extension through Sept. 30, 2020 to all commercial driver’s licenses, learner’s permits, endorsements and certificates expiring between March and September 2020. A previous extension had been set to expire at the end of June. California law enforcement has been notified of the new extensions. Commercial drivers 70 and older will receive a paper extension in the mail. While the extension is automatic, drivers younger than 70 will not receive a new card or an extension in the mail. At their option, a temporary paper extension can be requested on the DMV’s website.
Avila offered some suggestions regarding the safety of older drivers.
“Recent reports have shown older drivers are extending their time behind the wheel,” he stated. “Staying safe is of critical importance for those who continue to drive. AAA recommends older drivers speak to not only their physicians about driving, but they should also speak to their family members and close friends about staying safe. A 2018 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that nearly 83% of older drivers have not spoken to their physician or family members about their ability to drive safely. These conversations can lead to valuable outcomes that may help older drivers extend their time behind the wheel safely.”
For more information on California DMV visit, www.dmv.ca.gov. For information on TSA guidelines related to REAL ID, visit www.tsa.gov/real-id. For information on driving safely for older drivers, visit https://calstate.aaa.com/via/car/senior-driving-safety.