Q: I'll be turning 80 in a few months and still feel that I'm pretty able-bodied and alert. I have some worry about my driver's license test that is coming due about that same time. My eyesight isn't what it used to be. What if I fail the vision test or the other part? I don't drive at night and otherwise just around town, but I can't imagine not having a driver's license.
A: A driver's license represents a type of freedom, because the act of driving itself has come to symbolize independence and self-sufficiency. The privilege of driving is often taken for granted in our culture. In fact, driving has become such a fundamental part of our society that we often mistake this privilege as a right. But the reality is, driving is a privilege, and that privilege can easily be taken away if we fail to do something as simple as pass our driver's license renewal exam.
Once every four years the state of Kansas requires that drivers renew their license. The renewal process requires taking and passing the state-mandated driver's examination. There are two parts to this examination, and if either part is failed, the whole examination is failed. What many individuals do not know is that there are several ways to overcome failing one of the two required subsections.
Before a driver's license is renewed, applicants must pass an eyesight examination and a written examination testing the ability to read and understand highway signs regulating, warning, and directing traffic and knowledge of the traffic laws in Kansas. The vision test does not require applicants to have perfect 20/20 vision. Rather, applicants must have at least 20/40 vision in one eye. The 20/40 standard applies with or without a corrective lens.
If applicants fails to meet this standard on the first testing, they have the option to take the test again without an additional fee. Applicants who fail the second vision test may still pass the vision examination by taking a provided vision form to an ophthalmologist or optometrist. The ophthalmologist or optometrist must find the applicant to have 20/60 vision in one eye, with or without a corrective lens, for the applicant to be eligible to be reissued a driver's license. Applicants having 20/60 vision are additionally required to submit to and pass a practical driver's test.
Applicant who are unable to pass any of the previous examination options may still have their license renewed if they are able to demonstrate that they can safely operate a vehicle and that they have had a good driving record for the past three years.
In lieu of taking the vision examination offered by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), an applicant may submit a report on the examination of eyesight by a physician licensed to practice medicine and surgery or by a licensed optometrist. The report shall be based on an examination of the applicant's eyesight not more than three months prior to the date on the report submitted, and it shall be made on a form furnished to the applicant with the notice of the expiration of the license.
Similar to the vision examination, if an applicant should fail to pass the first written examination, there are alternative means available. If applicants fail to pass the written examination the first time, they have the option to retake the exam for an additional fee of $150. As an alternative to taking the written examination at the DMV, the applicant may complete the examination furnished with the notice of license expiration and may submit the completed examination to the DMV when they apply for renewal of their license.
The act of driving for many is a nearly essential part of their daily lives, yet this act remains a privilege and not a right. Renewing a driver's license does not need to be a difficult or trying experience, however. Knowing ahead of time that there are alternatives to the traditional required examinations helps to ensure success in the renewal process.