Wisconsin bill would accelerate license renewals for older drivers

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 12/12/2013

If one Wisconsin state lawmaker gets his way, the state’s oldest drivers would be required to renew their licenses more often.

Wisconsin law requires licenses to drive personal and commercial vehicles to be renewed every eight years. Doctors can report to the state Department of Transportation that a person shouldn’t drive. Police and other people can also report possibly unsafe drivers. License officials can then require the driver in question to visit a physician and/or take a road test.

Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, is working on a bill that would require people 75 years of age and older to renew their license every four years.

Affected drivers would have to pass an eye exam. Drivers would have the option of submitting a medical form providing satisfactory eyesight for every other renewal.

The 86-year-old Risser said statistics show that per-mile-traveled crash rates start to increase at age 75.

“With this bill, the DMV could help determine if someone’s driving skills are poor before a crash occurs,” Risser said in a news release.

Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine, said that many senior drivers are doing just fine, but he is concerned about the blanket eight-year renewal period.

“(The current rule) gives us little opportunity to check on the driving skills of those who are not aging as well,” Lehman stated.

Opponents say the change would be discriminatory.

The bill can be considered during the 2014 session that begins Jan. 14.

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