Older man with classic car, Shannon

Renewing your driver licence after 75

Just like a driving test, having a medical  examination to ensure you are still fit to drive can  be daunting – but it is important, both for your  own safety and the safety of other road users.

You must renew your driver licence on or before its expiry date if you wish to continue driving after you turn 75, but you cannot renew it more than six months in advance.

You will be sent a driver licence renewal pack about eight weeks before your licence is due to expire.

To renew your license at 75, 80 and every two years after, you will need a medical exam to assess fitness to drive.

Eyesight and cognitive ability are common reasons why GPs will advise patients to stop driving. This test is designed to ensure patients are physically and mentally still able to manage driving a vehicle and respond appropriately to any associated risks or hazards.

What to expect
At the consultation, you’ll talk through your medical history and any concerns. If you’ve been with your GP for a long period of time, this shouldn’t take long as they will have a good idea of your overall health and wellbeing and any concerns are likely already being treated and/or discussed. Your GP may also gain additional history from spouses and/or children if they are with you at the examination.

There are some medical conditions that may preclude driving such as severe Parkinsons disease, epilepsy, and severe heart valve disease.

Usually, eyesight is tested first followed by heart, lungs, pulse, blood pressure and abdomen for any signs of an aneurysm. Next, the GP will check your coordination, movement and reaction times.

Cognition is measured using a variety of specific tests. The most common one used is the mini-ACE (Addenbrookes Cognitive Exam) which looks at attention, memory, visuo-spatial capacity, verbal fluency and anterograde memory. It takes 15 minutes and is scored out of 30.

It’s not pass or fail, but anything under 25 will warrant a further conversation and possibly more assessment. Very low scores would raise concerns about dementia and further testing would be required.

When GPs see a low cognitive score, we recommend on and off-road testing with a specialist occupational therapist driving instructor who will give more formal recommendations for your driving ability. This further testing is not funded and can be expensive.


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Article by Dr Luke Bradford, Medical Director of Royal New Zealand College of GPs, reprinted with permission from the Office for Seniors

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