University of Iowa Health Care, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

Driving with a Visual Impairment

Mark E. Wilkinson, O.D.
Director, Vision Rehabilitation Service
UIHC Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

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Driving with a Visual Impairment Questionnaire


Almost daily, individuals with visual impairments confront eye care professionals with questions concerning operating a motor vehicle.  These individuals fall into three categories: 


Visual Field/Visual Acuity Standards for Driving

Illlinois | Iowa | Missouri | Minnesota | Nebraska | South Dakota | Wisconsin | Additional Information

Illinois

Visual Acuity:
(in at least one eye)
Restrictions (if any)

> 20/40

No restrictions

20/41 - 20/70

No driving when headlights are required

20/71 - 20/100

Bioptic telescope required unless living in a town with a population of 3000 or less

  • Must achieve 20/40 or better with no more than a 3x telescope
  • Requires a vision specialist statement indicating the individual has had the telescope a minimum of 60 days and has been trained to use the telescope when driving
  • Requires a behind the wheel test
  • Must be approved by a medical review board
  • No driving when headlights are required without a special review

< 20/100

License denied


Visual Field: Restrictions (if any)

> 140 degrees binocular or monocular

No restrictions

139 - 105 degrees binocular with at least one eye having a monocular field of at least 70 degrees temporal and 35 degrees nasal

Vehicle must have left and right outside mirrors

< 105 binocular or monocular field

License denied

Illinois uses a vision standard for driving.  This standard states that it is the individual's legal responsibility to notify the Illinois Secretary of State's office within 10 days of becoming aware that they have reduced visual acuity or visual field limitations that may disqualify them from further driving.

For additional information or to print a copy of the driving form: www.sos.state.il.us/departments/drivers/drivers_license/medical_vision.html


Iowa

Visual Acuity:
(in at least one eye)
Restrictions (if any)

> 20/40

No restrictions

20/41 - 20/50

No driving when headlights are required

20/51 - 20/70

No driving when headlights are required Maximum speed 35 mph

20/71 - 20/200

Discretionary issuance

  • Requires a vision specialist statement indicating the individual is visually competent to drive
  • Requires a behind the wheel test
  • If VA < 20/100, must also be approved by a medical review board
  • Can also be used to gain driving privileges at higher rates of speed than noted above and/or driving when headlights are required privileges

< 20/200

License denied

Bioptic Telescopes: Not allowed to achieve the visual acuity standards noted above

Visual Field: Restrictions (if any)

> 140 degrees binocular or monocular

No restrictions

139 -115 degrees binocular AND one eye has a monocular field of at least 70 degrees temporal and 45 degrees nasal

Vehicle must have left and right outside mirrors

95 - 114 degrees binocular AND one eye has a monocular field of at least 60 degrees temporal and 35 degrees nasal

Discretionary issuance

  • Requires a vision specialist statement indicating the individual is visually competent to drive
  • Requires a behind the wheel test

< 95 degrees binocular OR if neither eye has a monocular field of at least 60 degrees temporal and 35 degrees nasal

Discretionary issuance

  • Requires a vision specialist statement indicating the individual is visually competent to drive
  • Requires a behind the wheel test
  • Must also be approved by a medical review board

Iowa uses a vision standard for licensure.  This standard states that the individual is legally qualified to drive, until their license comes up for renewal, regardless of whether their visual acuity or visual field becomes impaired during the interval between licensing renewal.  Although individuals with acquired visual impairments are legally qualified to drive until their license is up for renewal, civil liability exposure exists, if they continue to drive with the knowledge that they would no longer visually qualify to drive, if they attempted to renew their license.  If the Iowa Department of Transportation becomes aware that a person has experienced a decrease in their visual acuity or visual field, the DOT will arrange for a re-evaluation to see if the person is capable of continuing to safely operate a motor vehicle.

For additional information: http://www.iamvd.com/ods/index.htm

To print a copy of the driving form: http://www.iadotforms.dot.state.ia.us/iowadotforms/library.aspx



Missouri

Visual Acuity:
(in at least one eye)
Restrictions (if any)

> 20/40

No restrictions

20/41 - 20/160

Discretionary issuance

< 20/160

License denied

Bioptic Telescopes: Not allowed to achieve the visual acuity standards noted above

Visual Field: Restrictions (if any)

>55 degrees in each eye or 85 degrees monocular

No restrictions

70 - 109 degrees binocular or monocular

Discretionary issuance

<70 degrees binocular or monocular

License denied

Missouri uses a vision standard for licensure.  This standard states that the individual is legally qualified to drive, until their license comes up for renewal, regardless of whether their visual acuity or visual field becomes impaired during the interval between licensing renewal.  Although individuals with acquired visual impairments are legally qualified to drive until their license is up for renewal, civil liability exposure exists, if they continue to drive with the knowledge that they would no longer visually qualify to drive, if they attempted to renew their license.  If the Missouri Motor Vehicle Department becomes aware that a person has experienced a decrease in their visual acuity or visual field, the DOT will arrange for a re-evaluation to see if the person is capable of continuing to safely operate a motor vehicle.

For additional information: http://www.dor.mo.gov/mvdl/drivers/dlguide/

To print a copy of the driving form: http://www.dor.mo.gov/mvdl/drivers/forms/



Minnesota

Visual Acuity:
(in at least one eye)
Restrictions (if any)

> 20/40

No restrictions

20/41 - 20/70

Speed restrictions

May also have time of day and radius from home restrictions

20/71 - 20/99

Discretionary issuance

    Requires a vision specialist statement indicating the individual is visually competent to drive

    Requires a behind the wheel test

    May have speed, time of day and radius from home restrictions

< 20/100

License denied

Bioptic Telescopes: Not allowed to achieve the visual acuity standards noted above

Visual Field: Restrictions (if any)

> 105 degrees binocular or monocular

No restrictions

< 105 degrees binocular or monocular

Discretionary issuance vehicle may require left and right outside mirrors, in addition to speed, radius from home and time of day restrictions

Minnesota uses a vision standard for driving.  This standard states that it is the individual's legal responsibility to notify the Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services office when they becoming aware that they have reduced visual acuity or visual field limitations that may disqualify them from further driving.

For additional information: http://www.dps.state.mn.us/dvs/index.html

To print a copy of the driving form: http://www.dps.state.mn.us/dvs/PDFForms/DVSFormFrame.htm



Nebraska

Visual Acuity:
(in at least one eye)
Restrictions (if any)

> 20/40

No restrictions

20/41 - 20/60

No driving when headlights are required

20/60 - 20/70

If blind in fellow eye, license will be denied

20/70

No driving when headlights are required and speed limitations

< 20/71

License denied

Bioptic Telescopes: Are allowed to achieve the visual acuity standards noted above

Visual Field: Restrictions (if any)

> 140 degrees

No restrictions

139 - 120 degrees

Vehicle must have left and right outside mirrors

100 119 degrees

No driving when headlights are required

Radius from home and speed limitations

< 100 degrees

License denied

Nebraska uses a vision standard for licensure.  This standard states that the individual is legally qualified to drive, until their license comes up for renewal, regardless of whether their visual acuity or visual field becomes impaired during the interval between licensing renewal.  Although individuals with acquired visual impairments are legally qualified to drive until their license is up for renewal, civil liability exposure exists, if they continue to drive with the knowledge that they would no longer visually qualify to drive, if they attempted to renew their license.   If the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicle becomes aware that a person has experienced a decrease in their visual acuity or visual field, the DOT will arrange for a re-evaluation to see if the person is capable of continuing to safely operate a motor vehicle.

For additional information: http://www.dmv.state.ne.us/examining

To print a copy of the driving form: http://www.dmv.state.ne.us/examining/forms#vision



South Dakota

Visual Acuity:
(in at least one eye)
Restrictions (if any)

> 20/40

No restrictions if fellow eye is at least 20/50

If fellow eye less than 20/60, left and right outside mirrors required

20/41 - 20/60

Discretionary issuance

  •     Requires a vision specialist statement indicating the individual is visually competent to drive
  •     May result in speed, time of day and radius from home restrictions

< 20/60

License denied

Bioptic Telescopes: Not allowed to achieve the visual acuity standards noted above

Visual Field:

South Dakota uses a vision standard for licensure.  This standard states that the individual is legally qualified to drive, until their license comes up for renewal, regardless of whether their visual acuity or visual field becomes impaired during the interval between licensing renewal.  Although individuals with acquired visual impairments are legally qualified to drive until their license is up for renewal, civil liability exposure exists, if they continue to drive with the knowledge that they would no longer visually qualify to drive, if they attempted to renew their license.   If the South Dakota Department of Public Safety becomes aware that a person has experienced a decrease in their visual acuity or visual field, the DOT will arrange for a re-evaluation to see if the person is capable of continuing to safely operate a motor vehicle.

For additional information or to print a copy of the driving form: http://www.state.sd.us/dps/dl/Applications/main.asp


Wisconsin

Visual Acuity:
(in at least one eye)
Restrictions (if any)

> 20/40

No restrictions

20/41 - 20/100

Discretionary issuance

  •     Requires a vision specialist statement of visual acuity
  •     May require a behind the wheel test
  •     May result in speed, time of day and radius from home restrictions

< 20/100

License denied

Bioptic Telescopes: Not allowed to achieve the visual acuity standards noted above

Visual Field: Restrictions (if any)

> 140 degrees binocular

No restrictions

139 - 40 degrees binocular/monocular 

Discretionary issuance

  • Requires a vision specialist statement of visual field
  • May require a behind the wheel test
  • May result in speed, time of day and radius from home restrictions

< 40 degrees binocular/monocular

License denied

Wisconsin uses a vision standard for licensure.  This standard states that the individual is legally qualified to drive, until their license comes up for renewal, regardless of whether their visual acuity or visual field becomes impaired during the interval between licensing renewal.  Although individuals with acquired visual impairments are legally qualified to drive until their license is up for renewal, civil liability exposure exists, if they continue to drive with the knowledge that they would no longer visually qualify to drive, if they attempted to renew their license.   If the Wisconsin Department of Transportation becomes aware that a person has experienced a decrease in their visual acuity or visual field, the DOT will arrange for a re-evaluation to see if the person is capable of continuing to safely operate a motor vehicle.

For additional information or to print a copy of the driving form: http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/drivers/drivers/apply/vision.htm


Additional Information

last updated: 02-22-2006