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Driving laws for the visually impaired in Washington

Can you drive with low vision in Washington State? Learn about the driving laws for the visually impaired in Washington State.

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Driving laws for the visually impaired in Washington Optometrist
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If you have a vision condition that affects your ability to drive safely, it can be a challenge to obtain a driver's license in Washington. However, at our low vision clinic in Olympia, we focus on helping patients with vision loss, including those driving with low vision or visual impairment, regain their ability to drive. Our low vision optometrist is dedicated to providing high-quality services to patients in Olympia, Lakewood, Tacoma, and Lacey area. We are proud to be a leading provider of low vision services in the area.

For patients who meet the criteria, we offer comprehensive guidance, advanced low vision devices, and personalized support in passing the driving test. This way, we help our patients demonstrate that they can drive safely despite their vision condition and regain their independence and confidence on the road.

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Understanding Vision Requirements and Low Vision Solutions for Drivers in Washington State

One of the key laws in Washington state is the requirement for all drivers to have a valid driver's license. This includes passing a vision test, which must be passed with a visual acuity of at least 20/40 in one eye and at least 20/70 in the other eye. Drivers who fail the vision test may be referred to our optometrist in for further evaluation and treatment.

Another important law in Washington state is the requirement for all drivers to wear corrective lenses if they have a vision impairment that cannot be corrected to the standard of 20/40. This includes individuals who have been diagnosed with conditions such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism as well as patients with eye diseases such as macular degeneration.

Failing the Vision Screening at the DMV: What it Means For Visually Impaired Drivers in Washington

Failing the Vision Screening at the DMV: What it Means For Visually Impaired Drivers in Washington

If you do not pass the vision screening at the DMV in Washington state, you will be given a vision report form that you will need to take to our low vision optometrist. Our low vision specialist will need to fill out the form and certify that you meet the minimum vision requirements to drive safely.

Our low vision optometrist will check your visual acuity, peripheral vision, and visual field. You will be required to pass a comprehensive vision and driving assessment, with at least 20/40 vision in one eye, and a peripheral vision test, with at least 110 degrees in one eye. If you wear glasses, contact lenses, or low vision devices, you will be required to wear them during the vision test.

Once the form is completed, you will need to take it back to the DMV and present it along with the required documents such as your ID and proof of residency, to be able to obtain or renew your driver's license. If the form is not completed or our low vision optometrist finds that you do not meet the minimum vision requirements, the DMV will not issue or renew your driver's license. Some drivers may be given a restricted license, which allows them to drive only under certain conditions such as daylight driving or driving with glasses, if the DMV determines that they meet certain requirements for safe driving.

It is important to note that even if you pass the vision screening at the DMV, it is always a good idea to have regular eye exams with our low vision optometrist to ensure that your vision remains adequate for safe driving.

Failing the Vision Screening at the DMV: What it Means For Visually Impaired Drivers in Washington

Failing the Vision Screening at the DMV: What it Means For Visually Impaired Drivers in Washington

In Washington state, if you wish to use bioptic telescopic glasses for driving, you must pass a special driving test, and the glasses must meet specific criteria set by the Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL). Additionally, you must have a visual acuity of at least 20/60 in the eye with the bioptic telescope and at least 20/40 in the other eye, and the lens must be mounted on the eyeglasses following specific guidelines. You are also required to carry a certification from our  low vision optometrist that verifies that you have been trained in the safe use of the glasses while driving.

It is important to note that the use of bioptic telescopic glasses for driving is still subject to the discretion of the licensing authority and is only allowed to be used as a secondary means of vision, meaning you must be able to drive without the use of the telescope.

You are also required to undergo annual vision assessments and license renewal, as well as renew the certification form from our optometrist. Furthermore, the laws may vary among cities and counties in Washington state, so it is best to check with the local Department of Licensing office for specific requirements and regulations.

It is crucial for you to regularly see our optometrist to ensure that the glasses are still appropriate for your visual needs, that the glasses are in good working condition and to ensure that you are still able to safely operate a vehicle. It is important to follow all the requirements and regulations to be able to drive safely while using the bioptic telescope glasses.

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What Conditions May Restrict Me from Driving in Washington?

What Conditions May Restrict Me from Driving in Washington?

In Washington state, certain visual conditions may restrict an individual from driving. These conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • Visual acuity of less than 20/40 in one eye or 20/70 in the other eye.
  • Visual field restriction of less than 120 degrees horizontally in the better eye.
  • Nystagmus (involuntary eye movement) that interferes with the ability to drive safely.
  • Double vision that cannot be corrected with glasses or contact lenses.
  • Progressive visual conditions such as glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration that affect the ability to drive safely.
  • Other visual conditions that affect the ability to drive safely, such as diplopia (double vision) or cataracts.
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Common Questions

Yes, driving with one eye in Washington State is generally legal if specific vision requirements are met. A person with vision in only one eye must demonstrate adequate visual acuity and peripheral vision in that eye. A low vision exam by a low vision optometrist may be required to assess whether the individual meets the necessary criteria, and restrictions or special accommodations might be applied.
Low vision individuals, including those considered legally blind, may be eligible to drive in Washington if they meet specific criteria and utilize assistive devices such as bioptic telescopic lenses. The regulations and requirements are detailed, and it's vital to consult with a low vision optometrist to conduct a low vision exam and discuss options tailored to the individual's needs. Depending on the severity of vision loss and ability to meet standards, some individuals may still be able to drive with appropriate accommodations and training.
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Schedule a Low Vision Assessment

If you have difficulty with visual skills for driving, such as visual acuity, peripheral vision, or visual field, and have failed the Washington DMV vision screening due to visual impairment, schedule a low vision and driving assessment with our optometrist. Our vision rehabilitation for driving and low vision driving assistance can help you regain your independence on the road. 

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