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The law on driving and age

Your safety - your responsibility

It’s always the driver’s responsibility to make sure they’re safe. It’s up to you to ensure you are driving within your capabilities and that your car is safe to drive.

Seeing clearly

To drive you need to be able to see properly. The standard test of eyesight is that you must be able to read a car number plate from 20m (65'8"), with your glasses or contact lenses if you use them. If you cannot do this then you should not be driving, and could be prosecuted. If you’re in any doubt you should see an optician or optometrist.

Free eye test

You can get a free NHS eye test if:

  • you’re aged 60 or over
  • you have diabetes or glaucoma
  • you’re 40 or over, and your mother, father, brother, sister, son or daughter has glaucoma
  • you’ve been advised by an ophthalmologist that you’re at risk of glaucoma.

Medical conditions

If you have a medical condition or disability that affects your ability to drive, you must tell the DVLA (DVA in Northern Ireland). They will assess your fitness to drive using the information you give them and may ask you to have a medical examination or a driving assessment (see here). You may be:

  • allowed to keep a full licence
  • given a temporary licence, valid for one to three years
  • given a licence to drive an automatic car or one with specialist controls
  • in extreme cases, refused a licence.

You have to tell the DVLA/DVA if your condition changes in a way that affects the way you drive.

You also need to tell your insurance company about your condition and about the DVLA/DVA’s decision.

See here for information about how to contact the DVLA and DVA.

Self declaration

When you turn 70, the DVLA/DVA will send you a form to renew your licence for three years. You need to declare on this form that you are still fit and able to drive safely, so it remains your responsibility to judge this. 

If you’re not confident you can make this judgment yourself, you can get professional advice from a Mobility Centre - find out more from Driving Mobility (the network of Mobility Centres).

You will have to renew your licence in this way every three years.

Last updated: December 2018

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