Senior Citizens Could Face Tighter Licensing Laws

By: Angela Salscheider
By: Angela Salscheider

Lawmakers are looking at a new bill that would require senior citizens to renew their licenses more often.

Right now, law requires most of us to renew our drivers licenses every eight years. Under a new law being proposed, people between the ages of 75 and 84 would have to renew their drivers licenses every three years. People 85 and over would have to renew them every two years.

"We know that as people age that some of the skills aren't as sharp as they used to be," said State Rep. Donna Seidel.

That's why under this proposal, senior citizens would also have to take more vision tests. Those 85 and older would also have to pass a traffic skills test.

Eighty-five-year-old John Kannenberg says he feels discriminated against.

"How far do you want to go with this?" Kannenberg asked. "Do you want to take it to the younger people? If they have a couple accidents do you want to do the same thing?"

Groups that are meant to protect senior citizens from discrimination are also backing the bill. The AARP and the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups are among them.

Seidel says that's because the whole point of this proposal is the issue of safety.

"The objective with this proposal is of course not to restrict or take away driving privileges from anyone, but to really ensure that our roadways are safe for all of us," Seidel said.

Kannenberg says he doesn't need the law to tell him when to stop driving. He says that's something he and most other senior citizens can decide for themselves.

"I think they're going a little too far," Kannenberg said.

"I believe people, once they get older, most of these people are going to know when to quit driving."

Right now this is nothing more than a proposal. Seidel says it could take months or even up to a year for a decision to be made on this bill.