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West Virginia mulls license re-testing for older drivers

In West Virginia, senior citizens who want to renew their driver's license need only to pass a vision test. Unlike laws in 32 other states, West Virginia does not require any special testing for people to renew their licenses after reaching a certain age. The communications director for the state's Division of Motor Vehicles explained that the state does not discriminate based upon age.

Many West Virginia citizens, including state lawmakers, are starting to question whether the state should discriminate based on age when it comes to doling out driver's licenses. Those concerns follow a recent accident in which a 97-year-old man drove his car through a closed lane in a construction zone on Interstate 77 in the Charleston area.

Under current law, a family member, a doctor or a law enforcement officer can write to the state's Department of Motor Vehicles to request that a particular driver be re-tested for their driver's license. However, the driver at issue can go through the DMV to find out who questioned their ability to drive.

One state senator, who represents Kanawha County, opined that it might make sense to re-test a person's driving ability after they reach a certain age. He cautioned, however, that it might be difficult to figure out what the appropriate age is for that kind of re-testing. Other states have set the age for re-testing at 75. Although they are the only two states that have such requirements, their laws lend credibility to the idea that it could be done in West Virginia.

Of course, just because a senior citizen -- or any person for that matter -- can legally drive, does not mean that they can avoid liability for damages that they might cause. Any negligent driver, regardless of their age, who causes a car accident, will be legally responsible to victims of that accident.

Source: The Charleston Gazette, "Should elder drivers undergo extra scrutiny?," Rusty Marks, June 1, 2014

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