AG Says Legislature Could Impose Special Restrictions on Senior Citizen Driving

The Tennessean has a lengthy story today on the possibility of Tennessee imposing extra restrictions on senior citizens’ drivers licenses.
The idea has been floated in the past, but not for years. If memory serves, former Rep. Frank Buck of Dowelltown once filed a bill calling for vision testing of older drivers when their licenses came up for renewal, but it caused such an uproar he backed off.
As the story notes, Rep. Eddie Bass recently sought an attorney general’s opinion on the subject and it basically gives a green light to laws imposing special restrictions on older drivers. But it is suggested that filing of any such bill is highly unlikely in this election year.
Exerpt from the story:
As the number of elderly drivers on the road — and accompanying concerns about their ability to drive safely — increases, state officials are exploring new laws that could subject older drivers to additional testing, make it easier for Tennessee to take licenses away from older drivers at the request of family members, or both.
Last month, Tennessee Attorney General Robert E. Cooper Jr. issued an opinion that stated such laws would not be unconstitutional or discriminatory so long as they were “rationally related to a legitimate state interest.”
The opinion came in response to questions submitted by state Rep. Eddie Bass, D-Prospect, a retired sheriff who is apparently exploring more stringent licensing requirements for senior drivers. Bass did not return multiple phone messages and emails seeking comment. In his question to the attorney general, Bass did not specify a certain age where additional testing might be required.
Under present laws, Tennessee is one of the least restrictive states in the country for older drivers. Most other states do have laws in place that impose heightened licensing requirements on older drivers, from accelerated renewal cycles to requiring that drivers over a certain age pass vision and/or reaction tests. Some states go so far as to require older drivers to submit a doctor’s certification that they are safe to drive. Federal law already allows health-care providers to provide protected information to public officials if they believe there is a threat to public safety.

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