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How Old Is Too Old For Car Keys?

Updated: Apr 1

Have you ever had an elderly family member that continues to drive and everyone in the family talks about how concerning it is that they still drive? Both of my grandfathers drove right up until shortly before their deaths. In both cases, the family was concerned.

Particularly, one of my grandfather’s was almost completely blind and he still insisted on driving himself to church.

Fortunately, it was only a ½ mile drive from his home to the church and at the end of his life, the car he drove rarely exceeded 10mph during the trip—but we always joked that he was so blind he just did the drive based off his memory. It was truly scary and in hindsight, the family should have done more to stop him from driving.

No child ever wants to take away a parent’s driver’s license. Besides, can a child take away a parent’s driver’s license?

Driving is linked to independence and it is very scary and difficult for some individuals to give up independence as they age. These are questions that come up frequently when talking with adult clients who are concerned about their aging parents. Here are the answers you need to know.

The Ohio BMV decides who has the legal ability to drive a car. Even establishing legal guardianship and having an individual adjudicated incompetent does not take away their legal privilege of driving a car. Instead, you have to go through the Ohio BMV.

The Ohio BMV will review information provided by a law enforcement agency, court, physician, hospital or rehab facility and will likely require a re-test of the driver upon the suggestion of any such entity.

More importantly, the Ohio BMV will review any information submitted by a family member if the same is written and signed by the family member. The written information provided by the family member must contain information which if true, gives good cause to require a medical statement or driver license examination. In other words, you can contact the BMV and if you do a good job of explaining your concerns, it will result in your loved one being retested by the BMV for driving privileges. But be warned—these letters are not confidential!

Only a letter of concern from a physician will be confidential. In other words, if you write a letter about a parent or grandparent and they end up being retested, they will know who caused them to be re-tested. As you can imagine, that does not always help family dynamics.

Accordingly, do not be afraid to talk to your loved one’s physician. Hopefully your loved one has a power of attorney and HIPAA waiver that authorizes you to speak with the physician. Even if there is no POA or HIPAA authorization, a physician can still receive information from you without disclosing any protected health information back to you.

If you have a loved one that should not be driving and you feel compelled to intervene for the safety of all involved, check out the website for the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle / Driver License Special Case Section/Medical Unit. As always, the attorneys at Resch, Root, Philipps & Graham are here to help if needed.



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