Getting a driver's license in Texas, as in other states, involves a series of tests, including knowledge, driving and vision to establish that the applicant can see well enough to drive safely. The vision test in Texas is similar to eye tests in other states.
Driving in Texas
Young people getting a first driver's license in Texas must jump through a few more hoops as adults seeking their first license. For example, Texas teen-driver laws require completion of a driver education course and experience with a provisional license before getting a "real" license.
An adult moving to Texas with a valid, unexpired driver's license from another U.S. state, U.S. territory, Canadian province or qualifying country can drive in the state for 90 days on the old license. At that point, he must apply for a Texas license in person and surrender his old license, if from Canada or another U.S. state. Alternatively, he can take all the Texas tests and keep his other license.
Getting a Driver's License
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) issues driver's licenses to Texas residents at least 18 years old. Anyone preparing to take the written and driving test should download and study the Texas Driver's Handbook, available online.
An applicant also needs to show that she is a citizen of the United States or lives in this country legally, and that she is a resident of Texas. She must show documentation proving her identity, her Social Security number if she has one, plus evidence of registration and insurance for any vehicles she owns. She must also bring a certificate of completion from an Impact Texas Drivers program. For adults, the Impact program involves watching a video, but the process is lengthier for young drivers.
Fees and Vision Test
When an applicant is ready to take the driver's license tests in Texas, she brings all the necessary documentation to the DPS office, along with a completed application. She must pay the fee for the license (currently $25 for a license or renewal) and take and pass the vision test before sitting for the written and driving test.
What is the vision test? It is a screening not unlike that given in an eye doctor's office to get glasses. An applicant must read letters off a chart on the wall. The requirements to get a license depend on whether the applicant wears lenses and whether her vision can be improved.
Vision Requirements to Get a Texas License
An applicant who does not wear corrective lenses must have 20/40 vision or better in both eyes. However, if he scores at least 20/50 in the best eye or both eyes together, he can get a license if he submits a statement from an eye specialist that his vision cannot be improved. If his vision score is 20/60 or 20/70 in his best eye or both eyes together and he brings in the specialist statement, he is eligible for a restricted license allowing him to drive only during the day, keeping to speeds of 45 MPH or slower.
With vision corrected by glasses or contact lenses, an individual must have vision corrected to 20/50 to pass the Texas vision test. At 20/70, his license will be restricted to daytime driving at a speed not to exceed 45 MPH. If an applicant does not have a statement from an eye specialist, the failing score with or without corrective lenses is 20/70. At 20/200, an applicant is considered legally blind.
If he fails the vision test with a score of 20/70, the Texas DPS refers the applicant to a vision specialist to see if it is possible to correct his vision with corrective lenses. If so, he can return and take the vision test again.
Teo Spengler earned a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall. 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 M.A. and an M.F.A in creative 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.