Someone who is not able to see well is not likely to be a good, safe driver. That is why a vision test is one of the basic components of every state's driver license application program. In Colorado, the state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) establishes vision requirements for drivers and enforces these by requiring a vision test before a license is issued or renewed in person. The state of Colorado requires every potential new driver to pass a vision test but has special rules that apply to older drivers.
DMV Vision Screening
When an individual presents at their local DMV office in Colorado hoping to acquire a Colorado driver's license, they will have to take the regular knowledge and skill tests. But that is not all. They will also be asked to take a vision test. An eye test is a part of the procedure to obtain an initial license, and the state also requires vision testing at all in-person renewals. Additionally, the DMV can require supplemental vision testing in certain situations.
In order to pass the vision test for their driver's license, the applicant must show a visual acuity of at least 20/40 in one eye. A person who ordinarily wears glasses or contacts for vision correction will be allowed to take the test wearing them. In this case, the person's license will reflect a corrective lenses restriction.
If the individual is unable to meet the vision standard, they will get a license at that time. Instead, the Colorado DMV refers them to an eye specialist to see whether they might be safe to drive with some type of restrictions. The applicant must pay for this consultation.
Medical Exam Reports
If a driver's license applicant decides to undertake the vision expert consultation, the document that results is termed a medical/visual exam report. The exam by this specialist is not limited to the eye chart test. That test, in which the person is asked to read an eye chart 20 feet away, gives the specialist a reading of the person's visual acuity. The result is a fraction, with 20 being the top number.
A 20/20 score means that the person can see at 20 feet distance the same size of lettering as a person with good vision. A 20/40 score means that the person can see at 20 feet what others can see at 40 feet. It is the lowest limit for passing the Colorado test.
The specialist, however, performs additional testing to determine other potential vision issues. For example, the person may have poor night vision for any number of reasons. The medical report issuing from this exam will recommend to the DMV whether the person can be a safe driver and state the conditions that the agency should impose. For example, they may recommend a license permitting daytime driving only, limiting the person's driving to a certain distance from home or to driving at a certain speed limit.
Additional DMV Vision Test
The driver must return to the DMV for another vision test with the medical/vision report in hand. It will be reviewed by the agency. If the driver is then able to pass the subsequent DMV vision test, their driver license renewal will be permitted with any eye correction needed. If the expert determines that driving would not be safe for the individual, even with eyeglasses or contact lenses, no further driving testing will be allowed.
Eye Test Requirements
In Colorado, every time a new license is issued, the person must first take and pass the vision screening examination. An eye test is required for a learner's permit as well. The Colorado driver’s license is issued for 10 years for those 21 to 60. Those over 60 must renew every five years. When it comes time for the renewal application, the driver must present their expiring license or permit, be fingerprinted and photographed, pay a fee and also pass another vision exam.
Drivers between the ages of 21 and 64 have the option to renew their licenses online or by mail rather than in person if they attest that they have had an eye test within the last year. Drivers may renew by mail up to the age of 79 with the same attestation. Drivers who are over 79 years old and renewing electronically or by mail must obtain a signed statement (DR 2402) from an optometrist or ophthalmologist attesting that the person has had an eye examination within the preceding 6 months and that they have 20/40 vision or better. Those with commercial driver's licenses cannot renew online, and drivers who are 65 or older cannot generally renew online.
DMV-Mandated Eye Examination
Even when a driver passes an eye exam and obtains a Colorado license, the DMV may require them to resubmit to testing in some cases. First, if the person – no matter of age – has been involved in two driving accidents in the prior three years, the Colorado DMV may require them to retake the vision and driving tests. This reexamination can also be required if a doctor submits a medical report suggesting another vision test, or a family member submits a written request stating that re-examination is necessary.
Once the Colorado DMV sends a driver notice that they must submit to another examination, they must do so within 20 days. At that point, if the driver has not come into the DMV for the eye exam, their license is cancelled, their driving privileges are revoked, and their driver's license is cancelled. If the individual passes the test, their driver's license will be returned.
Teo Spengler earned a JD from U.C. Berkeley Law School. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an MA and an MFA in English/writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.