Concerned about a loved one’s driving ability? Many times Ophthalmologists and Optometrists are asked by a patient’s family members or friends if we think their loved one is capable of driving safely. As eye care professionals, we can only speak to the aspects of driving affected by vision. Cognition or other general health issues must be evaluated by the patient’s primary care doctor.
Minnesota driving guidelines for an unrestricted license include at least 20/40 vision in one eye, and visual field more than 105 degrees. Those who have vision 20/50-20/80 or visual field between 100-105 degrees are still able to receive a driver’s license, but with restrictions. To see the vision form, Minnesota Department of Public Safety: Vision Report.
This form can be filled out with information from an eye exam 6 months old or newer. If it has been longer than 6 months a new exam is required.
If you have serious concerns about a loved one’s driving, there is a form that can be submitted to the DMV in Minnesota that requests a driving assessment. It requires you to list your name and relationship to the individual. Minnesota Department of Public Safety: Request For Examination of Driver.
Wisconsin driving guidelines are slightly different from Minnesota. Each state has a specific set of rules to obtain a driver’s license. In Wisconsin vision still must be 20/40 or better in one eye, but the visual field must be more than 70 degrees. Their minimum standard (which would include restrictions) is 20/100 vision in one eye and a 20-degree visual field. State of Wisconsin Department of Transportation: Driver license vision standards
Wisconsin also has a driving safety form if there is concern about a loved one’s driving, but again, it cannot be done anonymously. State of Wisconsin Department of Transportation: Driver Condition or Behavior Report.
It is a life altering event to have one’s ability to drive taken away. There are services available to help asses driving ability. These driving assessments provide training or tools that can improve driving skills. These services are usually self-pay. The results are part of a medical record with Allina clinics, not public record.
Senior Linkage Line has information on driving services, but has a great wealth of knowledge on insurance, prescription plans, long term planning and caregiving. Senior Linkage Line is a free service through the state of Minnesota.
Driving services in Duluth include Stride, Northern Access, as well as Care.com. In the northern Minnesota counties Arrowhead Transit is also available.
Wisconsin Senior Assistance Programs has a link on their site to access transportation help, as well as other services, depending on the county you live in.
Driving services are always changing; this is by no means an exhaustive list! There are programs in counties and even cities and towns to help with driving needs. Sometimes just knowing a few possibilities makes the news of losing one’s driver’s license a little more bearable.