Stricter rules for senior drivers begin Jan. 1

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – The rules of the road are changing for drivers who are 75-years or older. At the stroke of midnight New Year’s Day, a new law impacting thousands of drivers goes into effect.

“We’re actually going to see an increase in safety for all of these drivers,” said Georjeane Blumling, Vice President of Public Relations for AAA Tidewater Virginia.

The new law is named after Darren Morrell, a 32-year-old Oakton man killed in 2011 by an elderly driver who turned into traffic. Darren’s Law makes driving rules more strict for senior citizens.

“There’s not a specific age that makes it dangerous to drive at a specific age, but we do know that as our bodies age that we do need to keep a really close eye on all of those different faculties so that we are driving the best we can,” Blumling said.

Drivers 75-years and older will now have to renew their driver’s licenses every five years, and it must be done in person. Also, when they do renew, they must pass a vision test. Finally, if a mature driver is found guilty of breaking a traffic law, a judge could require the person to take a crash-prevention course.

Related Link: AAA programs for seniors

“I think it’s a law that’s time has come,” Blumling said. “We realize that we really are doing the best we can to protect all of our drivers on the road as we age.”

But not all senior drivers 10 On Your Side talked to support the change. Ann Carlson, 67, of Virginia Beach said, “I don’t like the idea of lowering the amount of time, because that means you are going to the DMV all the time, it seems like.”

Mary Cameron, 80, often visits the Senior Station in Portsmouth. She said she is a careful driver and thinks drivers like her are being targeted: “I think all seniors are being discriminated upon because of what one person did,” Cameron said.

“I don’t see any discrimination there at all. As a matter of fact, I think it’s helping everybody,” Louis Highsmith, 75, of Portsmouth said.

The cost of the five-year renewal licenses will be $20.

The District of Columbia and 33 other states already have special provisions for mature drivers.

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