In a quiet piece of legislation that impacts every older driver in Colorado, House Bill 1139 would allow more people to renew a driver’s license online, specifically those between 66 and 80 years old. The legislation passed both chambers unanimously. It has been placed on the Senate “consent calendar,” which is the venue of bills no one is likely to oppose.
The bill will give the same rights to those between ages 66 and 80, as those who are under 65 now receive; the right to renew their driver’s license online and swear they have had an eye exam in the past three years. This impacts 25 percent of the population of Chaffee County, where one in four residents is age 65 or older.
Last year during the COVID-19 pandemic, the governor issued an executive order focused on growing online drivers license renewal traffic (reducing in-person contact). But at the moment, once you’re older than 65, you have to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles with a signed statement from an optometrist or ophthalmologist as proof of a passing exam within the previous six months.
With Gov. Jared Polis’ signature, the legislation would change the age to age 80. At the moment all drivers younger than 65 have to attest they’ve had an eye exam in the past year. Drivers older than 80 would still have a doctor’s note showing an exam the previous six months.
Last year 97,635 Coloradans ages 66 to 80 renewed their driver’s license online, according to the Department of Revenue. The Dept. of Motor Vehicles (DMV) estimates that more than 18 percent of Colorado’s drivers are between 66 and 80 years old, so reducing in-person contact, and making it easier to renew your license in more far-flung rural areas of the state, is a positive step.
According to the Colorado State Patrol, there is no discernible increase in older drivers causing any more crashes than they normally would. Rep. Julie McCluskie, a Democrat from Dillon who authored the bill, said she checked this past year and discovered that there is even a slight decrease of accidents by older Coloradans. (which might be because of fewer cars on the road because of the pandemic.)
Young drivers could see a benefit too. If this passes and they are under age 18, they will be able to have another adult other than their parent sign off on getting their first license, as long as that adult accepts liability and attest the new driver has logged 50 hours of practice.