Older Drivers (Qld)
In Queensland, the laws relating to older drivers are designed to afford senior citizens as much independence as practical for as long as possible while keeping the roads safe for all road users. This article explains the rules that older drivers must follow in order to retain their licences in Queensland.
Why are there special rules for older drivers?
Not every older driver poses a risk on the roads. On the contrary, older drivers often have the experience to be able to anticipate and respond to situations on the road. They are also less likely to drive under the influence, drive at excessive speeds, or engage in behaviour such as texting and driving. However, the physical changes that occur with aging are often undeniable, and it is essential that every driver takes a pragmatic approach to assessing their driving skills.
Every driver in Queensland needs to be physically and medically fit to see, hear and react appropriately on the road. A driver who is suffering from a condition or taking a medication that impairs their abilities may engage in careless or dangerous driving despite their best intentions.
What are the rules for older drivers?
Under the Transport Operations (Road Use Management – Driver Licensing) Regulation 2010, every driver over the age of 75 must have current medical clearance to operate a vehicle. Specifically, the driver must carry (or be able to produce within 48 hours) an approved medical certificate when driving a vehicle on a Queensland road.
The driver must be operating the vehicle in line with the restrictions recommended on the medical certificate. For instance, the driver may only be able to drive during the day or within a few kilometres of home, drive to specific locations such as shops and medical appointments, avoiding freeway or highway driving, or driving a car with modifications. The fine for breaching this law can be over $8,000.00, and the driver may lose their licence altogether.
A doctor is legally allowed to report their concerns over a driver’s ability to drive to the licensing authority.
An older driver should regularly make a self-assessment of their own capacity to drive, as being aware of warning signs is the best way to protect themselves and other people. Every driver should consider whether they:
- Suffer from a health condition such as heart disease, high blood pressure, epilepsy, arthritis, or anxiety;
- Take medication that could affect their ability to operate a vehicle safely;
- Have trouble concentrating or feel exhausted after short drives;
- Struggle to see in the glare of lights on the road;
- Find it difficult to move their neck, head or shoulders to see to drive or park;
- Rely on passengers warning them or guiding them while driving or parking;
- Have slow reflexes and inaccurate judgments;
- React emotionally or angrily in traffic; or
- Drive at speeds that are dangerously slow or fast.
A driver living in Queensland will receive a notification from the Department of Transport and Main Roads six weeks before their 75th birthday so there is time for them to obtain a medical certificate. The driver must have a medical assessment and carry the certificate regardless of whether they received this notification. An older driver must also obtain this certificate even if they are not currently diagnosed with a condition that would impact their capacity to drive.
When the driver attends their medical examination, their doctors will determine whether they are medically capable of driving and under what conditions. This type of assessment is time-consuming so the patient should be prepared and inform their doctor that it is not a standard consultation. The doctor may recommend that the driver switches to a conditional licence.
In order for a medical certificate to be valid for this purpose, it must not have expired and must have been issued within the last 13 months.
Older Drivers In Queensland: Surrendering A Licence
A driver can choose to surrender their licence to the Department of Transport and Main Roads because of their doctor’s advice or their own lack of confidence in their fitness to drive. The driver can give in the licence in person or by mail or ask someone to pass in the licence with a letter of authorisation. When a driver surrenders their license they may be issued an alternative form of photo identification. A driver who gives up their licence can be charged as an unlicensed driver if they operate a motor vehicle after their licence is cancelled.
There are temporary changes to the rules for older drivers in Queensland due to COVID19 that you can check here. Armstrong Legal can help if you need legal advice about driving after a certain age in Queensland, or if you want to challenge a conditional licence or the cancellation of your licence. Get in touch on 1300 038 223 without delay for legal assistance in this field of law or any other legal issue.