Renewing a Driver’s Licence
If you are uncertain about how to renew your driver’s licence, the following information can help to clarify the steps in Alberta if you are over the age of 75 years. It also applies if you are younger and have medical conditions that may interfere with your ability to drive safely.
Alberta Transportation: Driver Fitness and Monitoring
Alberta Transportation, Driver Fitness and Monitoring is the Government of Alberta department responsible for licensing in the province. They can review your driver’s licence at any age if law enforcement, family, your doctor, or the general public reports a concern about your ability to drive safely. They will advise you of the steps you need to take should this occur.
Alberta Transportation: Driver Fitness and Monitoring, acting for the Registrar of Motor Vehicles, makes all final decisions about licensing the province. They maintain records of individuals with driver’s licences and determine their fitness to drive based on medical information, driving history, and driving evaluations.
Alberta uses the national medical standards for drivers developed by the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators to determine minimum medical and vision qualifications for safe driving. These standards were developed by medical professionals and provincial licensing authorities throughout Canada. You can find out more about the standards here on the Alberta Transportation website.
For more information, go to the Alberta Transportation website where they provide answers to frequently asked questions, links to medical forms, and other information that will help you understand the licence renewal process.
The Alberta Licence Review Process
As a licenced driver In Alberta, there is no set age when you must stop driving. As long as you are able to operate a motor vehicle safely, you can renew your licence regardless of your age. However, with age, there is a higher chance you may have medical conditions, or use medications to treat these conditions, and that these may affect your ability to drive safely.
You are legally required to have a medical report approved and signed by your doctor at age 75 years, 80 years, and every two years thereafter.
At any age, you are legally required to disclose any medical condition that can affect your ability to drive safely. You can find information about medical conditions that may affect safe driving here on Alberta Transportation’s website. If you are returning to driving after dealing with a medical condition, you can find Alberta Transportation’s guidelines for doing so, here.
If your doctor approves your completed medical report, you may renew your licence. If not, you may be referred by your doctor or Alberta Transportation, Driver Fitness and Monitoring for further assessment, rehabilitation, or a road test. The referral you receive depends upon your individual situation, the recommendations made by your doctor, and the resources available in your community.
Referrals for Additional Assessment
Your doctor may refer you to a social worker, nurse, occupational therapist or other professional, who works at a public or private facility, to complete an in-depth assessment of your driving abilities. These professionals use a variety of assessment tools, questionnaires and activities. The purpose of these referrals is to provide Alberta Transportation with additional information to enable them to make a fair assessment of your ability to drive safely. Depending on the results of your assessment, you may need a convalescence period or rehabilitation before you can renew your licence.
Some of these assessments are free; you must pay for others. You may have a choice of driving assessment options depending on where you live and what is available there. Be sure to ask your doctor or Alberta Transportation if you need clarification about your options. For example, you might prefer to take a road test rather than an in-office assessment. You can review options here in the section under “Testing.”
Alberta Transportation uses a variety of sources of information in addition to the in-depth assessment. Your doctor’s report, and where applicable, medical documentation, your driving record, and road test results are used to make the final decision about whether or not you may renew your driver’s licence or renew it with conditions. Examples of conditions include not driving at night or wearing corrective lens.
Preparing for a Road Test
You may be required to pass a road test with a licenced provincial examiner. This section of the Alberta Transportation website helps you prepare to requalify for your driver’s licence.
Whether you are required to take a road test or not, you may find it useful to take a refresher driver education course. AMA offers classes for older drivers to enhance knowledge and skills. Other driver training schools also offer individualized training for older drivers. Be sure to choose a licensed driver education school. Alberta Transportation lists licensed driver training schools in all regions.
AMA also offers in-car evaluations for older drivers and provides a confidential written report and recommendations to the driver. Those with a licence may find it helpful to have an evaluation of their driving before taking a road test. To find out about the Senior Driver in-vehicle evaluation, visit this page on the AMA website.
Possible Driver Licence Renewal Scenarios
The examples below describe situations related to licence renewal experienced by older drivers in Alberta.
Shirley Decided to Give Up Her Licence
Shirley, age 73, was reported to Alberta Transportation, Driver Fitness and Monitoring after a test performed by her doctor showed that cognition (thinking) problems could affect her ability to drive safely. Shirley had noticed her memory was not as good as it used to be. She had begun to forget where she parked her car and noticed that she was getting lost going to familiar places.
Shirley was referred to a private company for an assessment and paid a fee for the service. She also had to take a road test. Shirley did not know about the free services she could have used instead to get her assessment done.
Shirley took a computerized test and road test and passed both. Alberta Transportation, Driver Fitness and Monitoring told her she was allowed to renew her licence. However, with time, her dementia worsened. Shirley decided she should no longer drive. With the help of family, she sold her car and moved to a seniors’ residence that provided transportation to its residents.
Joelle Renewed Her Licence after a Medical
Joelle was about to turn 75 years of age. She received a medical form to be completed by her doctor and a letter from Alberta Transportation, Driver Fitness and Monitoring stating that her driver’s licence was up for renewal. Joelle, in good health, took the medical form to her doctor who completed and approved it. Joelle was able to renew her driver’s licence at an Alberta Registry.
Don’s Vision Was Failing
Don, a widower and age 84, lived on his acreage and drove to town two to three times a week for groceries and social events. While getting the medical for his driver’s licence renewal, Don was advised by his doctor that his visual acuity (sharpness of vision) was less than optimal. His doctor referred him to an ophthalmologist for further assessment. The ophthalmologist diagnosed cataracts that could be surgically corrected and reported this to Don’s doctor.
Alberta Transportation, Driver Fitness and Monitoring suspended Don’s licence until after his surgery and recovery were complete. Don’s vision problem was corrected and Driver Fitness and Monitoring allowed him to renew his licence.
Family was concerned about Helen’s Driving
Helen, aged 82, lived on her own. She drove two times per week to get groceries and visit her husband who lived in an extended care facility. Over 6 months, Helen’s daughter, Susan, noticed her mother was experiencing some challenges while driving. She seemed stressed, drove very slowly, had trouble making left-hand turns, seemed to have trouble moving the steering wheel and had some unexplained damage to her car.
Susan talked with her mother and Helen agreed to have a professional evaluation of her driving done. The evaluation by a qualified driving instructor suggested that Helen’s driving would be improved by taking a refresher course and embarking on an exercise program to improve her strength. Helen took the advice, followed the exercise program developed by an occupational therapist and made an appointment to talk with her doctor. All these steps improved her driving confidence. However, Helen still found driving stressful and she decided she no longer wanted to drive. She and her family explored a local volunteer driver program and family resources to help her continue visiting her husband and enjoying life.
Jim was suffering from several Medical Conditions
Jim, age 70, had diabetes, a history of stroke and some cognitive impairment. After recovering from a fall, he was discharged from hospital with a referral for a follow-up in-home assessment from an occupational therapist. The occupational therapist had concerns with Jim’s impaired cognition, his right side coordination and his poor vision.
Discussions with his family revealed Jim had several close calls behind the wheel. The occupational therapist informed Jim that he had concerns about his driving and that he would report his concerns to Alberta Transportation, Driver Fitness and Monitoring.
Jim received a letter from Driver Fitness and Monitoring suspending his licence. He had an assessment with his doctor who recommended a road test. Jim did not pass the test. He was not allowed to renew his licence. Jim appealed the decision, but the appeal was denied. He arranged for transportation through a private driving service.
Renewing Your Driver’s Licence
In Canada, most provinces require drivers to take vision tests and, in some cases, written driving tests every two years after the age of 80, to ensure they can continue to drive safely.
Find out the requirements for your jurisdiction by clicking on your province below:
Northwest Territories Transportation
Government of Nunavut
Information for Aging Drivers
Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) Regulations
New Brunswick Department of Public Safety
Prince Edward Island:
PEI Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal
Nova Scotia Registry of Motor Vehicles
Newfoundland and Labrador:
Referrals for Additional Assessment
Your doctor may refer you to a social worker, nurse, occupational therapist or other professional to complete an in-depth assessment of your driving abilities. These professionals use a variety of assessment tools, questionnaires and activities. The purpose of these referrals is to provide local provincial transportation authorities with additional information to enable them to make a fair assessment of your ability to drive safely. Depending on the results of your assessment, you may need a convalescence period or rehabilitation before you can renew your licence.
The following are used to make the final decision about whether or not you may renew your driver’s licence or renew it with conditions:
- your doctor’s report
- medical documentation, where applicable
- your driving record
- road test results
Examples of conditions include not driving at night or wearing corrective lenses.