Print Posted By California Drivers Advocates on 06/08/2017 in DMV

California DMV Vision Standards for Safe Driving.

California DMV Vision Standards for Safe Driving.

Why is the DMV concerned about a driver’s quality of vision? There is no question that operating a motor vehicle requires the ability of the driver to perform a multitude of complex tasks.  Eye/Hand coordination, judgement, awareness and perception are all hallmarks of safe driving.

Clearly one of the most critical human senses that affect a person’s ability to drive is vision.  One’s ability to clearly see the world as you drive is fundamental.  Good vision permits the driver to see and perceive road signs, traffic lanes, pedestrians and other vehicles.  Without good vision, a driver is literally aiming a missile on the road. The DMV’s primary function is to ensure that all drivers maintain the ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.  If the DMV identifies a driver whose vision condition may endanger the public, the department will move quickly to remove that person from the road.

How does the DMV evaluate vision? The DMV’s basic standard for vision is 20/40 with both eyes either with or without corrective lenses.  If a driver’s vision is below the basic standard, the DMV will require additional evidence that he or she can safely operate a motor vehicle despite the diminished vision.

The DMV has identified seven vision functions that may be impaired by a vision condition:

  • Central Vision/Vision Acuity
  • Peripheral Vision
  • Night Vision
  • Glare Resistance and Glare Recovery
  • Judgement of Distance
  • Eye Movements
  • Visual Perception

Central Vision/Vision Acuity: Any condition that impairs visual acuity may affect the driver’s ability to read roadway signs or identify driving hazards in an

Peripheral Vision: Any condition that impairs a driver’s peripheral vision can prevent them from seeing a threat that approaches from the right or left; outside of their central field of vision.  For example, peripheral vision assists a driver in recognizing other vehicles or pedestrians approaching from the side.  It also assists drivers in monitoring the status of parked vehicles along roadway edges.

Night Vision: Any condition that impairs a driver’s night vision can prevent them from clearly seeing road signs.  A driver may experience difficulty monitoring low-contrast features of the roadway such as roadway edges, lane lines or abnormalities in the roadway surface.  This type of vision impairment can affect the ability of a pedestrian or bicyclist who is wearing dark clothing.

Glare Resistance and Glare Recovery: Any condition that impairs a driver’s ability to see through a source of glare can be critically dangerous.  If a person is unable to maintain visual acuity while facing the sun or on-coming headlights it could easily result in rear-end accidents, missing curves in the roadway or even striking pedestrians.

Judgement of Distance: Often referred to as “depth perception”, any condition that impairs a driver’s ability to judge distance is dangerous.  Without the ability to judge distance, a driver may stop too short of a limit line or may actually enter into an intersection before stopping.  Such a driver may follow other vehicles too closely or misjudge the ability to safely make a left-turn in front of an on-coming vehicle.

Eyes Movements: Often referred to as “eye lock”, any condition that impairs a driver’s ability to scan their environment through continuous eye movement is dangerous.  If a driver spends too much time focusing on one item or continually stares straight ahead, they may easily miss the development of a hazard to their side or rear.

Visual Perception: Any condition that impairs a driver’s ability to perceive or “process” what they see can end in disaster.  A person whose perception is impaired may have difficulty background from foreground.  They may have difficulty moving their attention away from distractions.  They may stop suddenly, or fail to react to a hazard.

How does the DMV handle Vision problems?  In most instances, the DMV will learn of a driver’s vision condition during one of the following events:

If a driver fails to demonstrate they meet the basic vision standard of 20/40 with both eyes, the licensing process will stop.  At that point, the driver must be examined by a licensed vision doctor (Optometrist/Ophthalmologist) who would then prepare a Report of Vision Examination (DL Form 62).  Upon receipt of the DL 62, the DMV may then schedule the driver for a “behind the wheel” driving evaluation or supplement driving evaluation to determine if he or she has adapted to their vision challenges and can safely drive a motor vehicle.

Those drivers who suffer with any condition that severely impairs their vision (20/200 or worse), will not be allowed to take a driving test and their driver license may be denied or revoked.  If this occurs, the driver is permitted to schedule a hearing to introduce evidence and testimony to establish their ability to safely drive. In some instances, a driver’s vision may improve or may be sufficiently corrected by surgery or the application of vision devices.  In still other instances, some drivers with poor vision may be able to demonstrate they had adapted or compensated to the point they can drive. The DMV possesses the authority to issue instruction permits or restricted driver licenses to those people who may be safe to drive with additional instruction or medical monitoring.

What can I do if the DMV revokes my driver license for a vision condition?  With very few exceptions, the California Vehicle Code permits a driver to conduct an administrative hearing to fight the suspension or revocation of a driver license.  If you have received an “Order of Suspension/Revocation” in the mail from the DMV because they believe you suffer with a condition that affects your vision, you must react quickly.

Everything the DMV does is automatic and time sensitive so you must respond to the intended suspension/revocation of your license in a timely manner.  Pick up the phone and immediately telephone the DMV Defense Experts at California Drivers Advocates.  For years, we have been fighting to preserve the driving privileges of people with limited vision.  Don’t assume you can protect your rights by simply chatting with the DMV.  The DMV’s process to suspend or revoke a driver license is not user friendly and the DMV does not care about your need to drive.  Call CDA today, we can help. You can visit our website here: California DMV Hearing Defense, or visit our listing profile for contact information.

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