How Often Do You Have to Take the Written DMV Test if You Have Had No Tickets or Accidents?

By Danielle Smyth - Updated March 27, 2018

To earn your driver’s license, you are required to take a series of tests, both written and skill-based. Once you have passed all applicable written tests, you are generally required to take a road test, in which you’ll be asked to perform basic driving tasks under the supervision of an agent of the DMV. After earning your license, are you set for life when it comes to mandatory driving tests, either written or practical? The short answer is that it depends on where you live, your driving history and whether you always renew your license on time.

Tip

In general, if you have had no tickets or accidents and have no physical or mental impairment, you should not have to retake the written driving test.

When Do You Have to Retake the Driving Test?

In most cases, once you have taken the driving test once, you will not need to retake it. However, certain circumstances may exist that would require you to be retested. These include when you let your license lapse, if you lose your license due to traffic violations or if you are over a certain age in states like California and meet certain criteria. If you've had no tickets or accidents, you should not have to retake the driving test.

How Often Do You Have to Take the Written Driving Test in California?

Drivers in California who are 70 years of age or older are usually required to renew their driver’s license in person and take a vision test while there. If your vision does not meet the 20/40 benchmark but is at least 20/70 with any corrective lenses you might wear, you will be issued a temporary license and required to visit an eye doctor for assessment and vision correction. You’ll then need to return to the DMV within 30 days.

Senior drivers are not automatically required to take an additional written driving test solely on the basis of their age. If they are required to be re-tested, it is usually because they have not met the DMV’s minimum vision requirements or have been referred from a Driver Safety office because of a physical condition, mental impairment or lack of skill.

The driving test senior drivers would take is called a Supplemental Driving Performance Evaluation. If this test is too difficult, they may be eligible to take an Area Driving Performance Evaluation instead.

California’s written renewal test has only 18 questions. The test is available in English, as well as in many other languages. If you do not pass the written renewal test, you have two additional chances before you are required to pay another application fee.

Do Other States Have Similar Laws?

Other states have similar requirements to those of California. For instance, in Alaska, drivers over the age of 69 are required to renew their license in person. However, this does not require a written test. In Arizona, individuals over the age of 65 must present documentation of a recent vision test upon license renewal. In Delaware, licenses must be renewed every eight years, at which time applicants must submit to a vision test, regardless of age.

Beyond tests for vision, some states require additional testing if you have had any driving violations or suspensions. For instance, in Florida, if you have been convicted of a moving violation in the past three years or have had your license suspended in the last seven years, you will be required to pass a test of your ability to read and understand highway signs.

In Missouri, if you are renewing your license, you will be required to pass a vision test and a sign recognition test, regardless of your driving history. Many states, like New Hampshire and South Carolina, reserve the right to require a written or driving test at renewal, but they do not routinely do so. Familiarize yourself with your state’s specific requirements regarding testing if your license is due for renewal.

About the Author

Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. Her experience includes years of work in the insurance, workers compensation, disability, and background investigation fields. In addition to being the content writer and social media manager for Alliance Worldwide Investigative Group, she has written on legal topics for a number of other clients. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing (www.wordsmythcontent.com), and she enjoys writing legal articles and blogs for clients in related industries.

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