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How does DMV learn I have a Vision Problem

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What sources does the DMV use to evaluate my vision?

When the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is evaluating a new applicant for the issuance of a driver license, the quality of that person’s vision is one of the key elements to be reviewed.  Also, there are times when an existing driver has their vision reviewed during the renewal process or when someone has reported the driver to the DMV for having vision problems. The DMV may receive information for the following reasons or from the following sources that could require a vision test:

New Applicant / Renewal Applicant:  Anytime a person applies for the issuance of an original California Driver License, the DMV will put that person through a testing process designed to ensure he/she possesses the skill, the knowledge, and the fitness to drive.  At certain times, the DMV will also test a person who is applying to renew an existing driver license, to confirm they remain fit to drive.

The most common instance of the DMV testing a renewal applicant is when the driver has passed the age of 70.

Under the category for fitness to drive, the DMV will require the original applicant or renewal applicant to pass a vision test.  The test is normally administered at a DMV Field office.

DMV receives information from the Driver:   At times a driver may find themselves filing documents at the DMV.  Occasionally, a person may say something to a DMV employee that raises concern, or a DMV may see something that raises a concern for the person’s vision.  In this case, the DMV is authorized to order vision testing.

DMV Receives information from outsides Sources:  The DMV may receive information from a variety of outside sources that may raise a concern over that person’s quality of vision.  Some examples or outside sources are:

  • Physicians
  • Police Officers
  • Judges
  • Friends, family, neighbors
  • Anonymous tipsters

What factors does the DMV consider when evaluating my vision?

When the DMV is evaluating a person’s vision and their fitness to drive, it will consider the following factors:

  • The severity of one’s vision condition.
  • How one’s vision disorder may affect their central vision and their peripheral vision.
  • Does the vision disorder affect one eye or both eyes?
  • Can the vision disorder be correct by glasses, contact lenses or surgery?
  • Is the vision disorder static or is it progressive?

What disorders can cause me to fail a vision test?

Most frequently, drivers may experience problems passing a DMV vision exam because they have one or more of the following disorders?

  • Brain tumors or brain lesions
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Diabetic Retinopathy
  • Head trauma
  • Kaposi’s sarcoma or ocular lesions
  • Glaucoma
  • Macular degeneration
  • Cataracts
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Stroke

Remember, just because you may have one of these disorders that affect your vision does not mean you cannot be licensed.  It simply means you must work harder to establish your fitness to drive.

What is a vision referral?

If the DMV concludes that your vision does not meet the minimum screening standard, all is not lost.  You will be provided a special medical document known as a “Report of Vision Examination” that must be prepared by an eye doctor.  In most instances, it is in your best interest to have the form prepared and signed by an Ophthalmologist.  An Ophthalmologist is an actual medical doctor with a specialty in eye medicine.  These physicians have a level of training and experience that far exceeds that of an Optometrist.

If your eye doctor clears you for driving and you return the medical report to the DMV, you will be scheduled for a special driving test that is designed to examine how your vision actually affects safe driving and how you have adapted to your vision limitations.  By passing the drive test, you establish that while you do not meet the DMV’s minimum vision standard, you have learned to compensate to a level that makes you safe to drive.

Remember, poor vision does not have to be the end of your driving freedom.  If you are facing problems with the DMV because of vision issues, call the DMV Defense Experts at California Drivers Advocates.  We will make sure your rights are protected and you are provided every opportunity to return to driving.

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