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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Friday, April 15, 2022

How to Take the Car Keys Away From Unsafe Elderly California Drivers

Some people are able to drive safely well into their advanced years, but for some others, deteriorating eyesight, slowed processing time, the onset of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, or some other facet of the aging process impacts their driving ability. Rather than wait for a tragedy to happen, there are things one can do to address this issue with their aging loved ones.

A California elder law attorney can advise you on how to take the car keys away from unsafe elderly California drivers.

Reasons That Older Unsafe Drivers Might Resist Giving Up Their Keys

Being able to drive oneself around is an essential component of independence in many areas in California. Public transportation is not as convenient in many sprawling California locations as it might be in places like New York City, where many people do not even own cars. When you ask an older adult to stop driving, you are asking them to give up their independence.

Usually, it is the older adult’s children who tell them that it is time to turn over the keys. An aging parent might see this situation as impertinence because of the family dynamic. The parent might dig in their heels mostly because of who the messenger is, rather than the message.

Also, many people are afraid that when they give up their driving privileges, getting frail and dependent will happen soon thereafter. The fear of mortality can be powerful. Regardless of the reason that a senior loved one might resist giving up the keys, steps must get taken if there are legitimate safety concerns.

Options for Unsafe Elderly Drivers in California

The advent of rideshare services like Lyft and Uber offers an option that was not available until relatively recently. Many people hate the idea of using public transportation, feeling it is unsafe or inconvenient. In fairness, quite a few locations in our state lack adequate public transportation options.

When you run the numbers with your loved one, you can point out how much less expensive it is to use a rideshare service than to make a monthly car payment and pay for insurance, taxes, licensing, gas, oil changes, tires, parking, and other routine maintenance. For the number of trips that the older person takes in a month to the grocery, doctors, and social activities, Lyft or Uber could cost less than the monthly expenses to own and maintain a vehicle.

For many older adults, having a loved one talk with them about their need to stop driving is enough to convince the senior that what they might have been suspecting is true. The best way to increase the likelihood of such a conversation being successful is to be kind, patient, respectful, and understanding towards your older relative. Never be patronizing, critical, judgmental, or hurtful.

If the conversation does not achieve the desired result, there are more aggressive options, like contacting the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Our state allows you to submit a request that the DMV reviews the driving qualifications of someone who should not be driving. You could either use the DS 699 form, Request for Driver Re-examination, or simply write a letter to your local DMV office identifying the unsafe elderly driver and giving your reason for the request. You can request that you not be identified to the unsafe driver. The DMV will honor your request for confidentiality to the fullest extent possible.

You can talk to a California estate planning attorney about additional options to protect your aging loved one. Get in touch with our office today for a free consultation.


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