• Sep 27, 2013
Man Says State Won't Let Him Drive Because He's Old

A man in Michigan is suing the state for age discrimination after he failed a driving test and had his license restricted.

Three days after Carl Hainer turned 85, he received a letter from the Secretary of State asking him for medical documents and requesting he come in for a driving exam. He failed. Hainer is suing the state because he says he never should have been tested in the first place.

For Michigan's part, officials told Fox 17 news they will only test a driver if they receive a written complaint, typically from a family member, doctor or police. The SOS receives 400 complaints against drivers every month.

Hainer is now taking his fight to federal court. How to cope with an increasingly older population of drivers is a touchy topic that hasn't been addressed on a state or federal level. That's a problem in a graying America, where 52.7 million people will be 70 or older by 2030. The largest car accident in American history was caused on July 16, 2003, George Russell Weller, then 86, drove his 1992 Buick LeSabre through 2½ blocks of the Santa Monica, Calif., farmer's market, killing 10 people and seriously injuring 63 others.

It's important to be aware of close relatives abilities as they age. It's not easy to take away a person's mobility and sense of independence. Click here for tips on how to talk about driving with elderly parents.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 498 Comments
      ron
      • 1 Year Ago
      If someone in his family or a Doctor expressed concern for his ability, then the State is absolutely in the right. So many times family wont tell dear old dad he's too old to drive as he's going down the sidewalk, but there comes a point where elderly people pose a real risk, and the state will revoke the privilege.
      Don
      • 1 Year Ago
      I think everyone should be re-tested every 5 to 10 years. Younger drivers can be just as dangerous.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Don
        I agree especially if they have moving 2-3 or more moving violations in a year.
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is such a difficult situation, but this gentleman needs to understand that at 85, although he feels that his driving might be just fine, he needs to be tested more frequently since the likelihood of neurologic deficits occurring is much higher than in younger individuals. This is only about safety, nothing else.
      raceboy
      • 1 Year Ago
      Here in Florida they tried to get mandatory testing on renewal from drivers over 70. Well, the senior lobby is very powerful here in Florida (they may not be able to drive, but they can vote and have all the money) and that idea was quickly shot down. Not a 2 week span goes by where I don't see some old person doing something insane like driving in the grass on the HWY for miles on driving the wrong way on the HWY or divided RD, doing 30 MPH on the HWY in the left lane while traffic tries to get around the moving roadblock while traveling 80 MPH, driving a golf cart on the HWY.....and that's just to name a few of the things I have personally seen not to mention the daily carnage on the news every day usually, and ironically, involving a senior crashing their car right through the DMV. As a person who works in insurance, there is a reason once you hit 70 your car insurance starts to rise again. Still, with all that being said I think asking gov to solve the problem is a mistake. Inevitably many people will get caught up in that system who shouldn't be there with little recourse at that age and the state tests are so ridiculous anyway I doubt they will prune many people from the tree in relationship to the surely massive cost of instituting and defending such a system. So, punish people when they actually commit a crime. You hurt someone while driving, throw the book at them. That's the only workable solution.
      georgettec28
      • 1 Year Ago
      Those who feel that the licenses of older drivers should be restricted or revoked, please step up to the plate and offer to drive these senior citizens wherevere and whenever they want to go someplace. Don't like it? Then shut up and mind your own business. You will be in that position one day. See how you feel when someone tries to take your wheels. There are more problems with young speedsters and drunk drivers than there are with seniors.
        junior
        • 1 Year Ago
        @georgettec28
        So you think he should get his license even though he FAILED the test? Isn't that the American way, reward failure.
        houcasey
        • 1 Year Ago
        @georgettec28
        Se how you feel, Georgette, if one of these seniors hits and kills one of your children, grandchildren, husband, brother, sister. Driving safely isn't about how they "feel". Do you have any idea how many seniors have Altzheimer's, dementia, impaired vision and impaired reaction times? Don't be such a sap and think. If I'm on the road with anyone incompetent to drive it IS my business.
        kevin
        • 1 Year Ago
        @georgettec28
        looking the other way only works in detroit and NYC
        bartonlyle
        • 1 Year Ago
        @georgettec28
        I believe there needs to be more freedom for physicians to report patients to the DMV who they feel ought to be retested or restricted. The problem is that often such determinations are subjective and they would not be age specific. There are some patients who absolutely should be taken off the road, but there are many other patients who are not "absolutely" incapable of driving safely so how can this be dealt with fairly? No one can deny that we all drive less well as we age.
        ldrthmaul
        • 1 Year Ago
        @georgettec28
        How would you feel if some near-blind old man or woman ran over someone you cared about? Scores of innocent people have been killed by elderly drivers. So, how about you shut up because elderly drivers are the business of everyone else driving out there. They aren't the only ones that get killed by them. Many were pedestrians minding their own business when some old man or woman crashed into them. I don't think people should automatically lose their licenses at a certain age, but they should have to take tests annually. This guy took a test and he failed. He should be off the road.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @georgettec28
        I hope i'm not in the position someday where I kill somebody because my reflexes are too slow. Sometimes you have to face facts and give up the wheels. Most towns have senior citizen resources and there are always taxis and don't complain about the cost of taxis because you are saving $ on car insurance, maintainence and gas! As far as young speedster and drunk drivers...of course I agree with you and that's why there are laws against them, too!
        kevin
        • 1 Year Ago
        @georgettec28
        All it takes is a phone call to have transportation knocking on your door in usually less than thirty minutes, it is cheaper than insurance and a car payment (if the car is not paid for), and it is called a taxi and or bus. Pivoting the argument shows that you know that removing elderly drivers' ability to kill people with a motor vehicle is the right thing to do.
      Rich
      • 1 Year Ago
      I was in an accident a few years back when an elderly Gentleman forgot his diabetes medicine that day, and went into diabetic shock at the wheel, stomping on the gas, leg frozen to the floor, with his elderly wife trying to drive from the passenger seat. Their car which was a older huge Oldsmobile with a full frame and built like a tank. Try to imagine my surprise when the car in front of me exploded into the air doing several somersaults and landing directly in my path forcing me to either turn into on coming traffic or turn into the path of the car responsible for this. I chose to stop as quickly as I could and was "T" boned from the passenger side after I slammed on the brakes and turned the wheel to make my car go sideways and slide to a stop, she steered the car right into me, bending me in half at the passengers door, luckily no one was riding with me that day, as their car then accelerated through me and into the front yard of a house with 6 children playing in a circle next to a tree, their car barely missed them, and slammed into a jeep parked in the driveway sending it over the bluff behind the house and then slammed into house, and FINALLY the cars forward motion was stopped when it slammed into the side of the foundation and dug itself deep into the gravel driveway with back tires still spinning and buried to the axle at full acceleration. I found out later that this driver took out 6 other cars in this accident and damaged the foundation to the house. I am very glad the children were not harmed. They were traumatized for sure but unharmed. I also found out this elderly person had recently got his license back after a similar incident the year before. The state police took his license on the spot and he will never drive again. This accident happened in Michigan and was instrumental in getting the legislature passed that requires the elderly to pass a test to keep their license. There is a reason for elderly being required to pass a test and this is why. I am going to be 56 this year and I fully expect to have to pass the test when I reach that age. I will go gladly. I know first hand that this is what it is going to take to keep our roads safe. Just think of what would have happened if those children were mowed down. They would have absolutely no chance against a 5000 pound vehicle barreling down on them at full acceleration. I suffered a concussion and actually woke up at the wheel with smoke pouring out of my dash. I could have burned to death. I don't know the condition of any of the other drivers. I was the 5th car out of the six. The speed and acceleration that would have been required to bend my car in half being the fifth car is still astonishing to me, to this day. I do not feel bad about elderly drivers being required to pass a test.
      mtfoster
      • 1 Year Ago
      Denial is not a river in Egypt.
      ctslair
      • 1 Year Ago
      Ah, if you fail your driver's test--no matter how old you are--you don't get a license. Right? I recall taking my driver's test and it wasn't exactly brain surgery, so if somebody can't pass, maybe they should get the hint and stay off the road.
      • 1 Year Ago
      We'd be better off retesting many of the young NASCAR wannabees who daily/nightly endanger others on our roads and highways. Young or old, if a driver habitually violates the driving laws, he or she should be examined to professionally determine their fitness for holding a driver license. Demonstrated incompetence "behind the wheel" and not date of birth should be the prelude to retesting.
      • 1 Year Ago
      I wished they would do this in all States Please Oregon Please do this.
      trs51061
      • 1 Year Ago
      its sad to know father time has to come calling but its in the best interest for him and the people he could possiable hurt.
      • 1 Year Ago
      It is my plan that when I become unable to drive I will be living somewhere where there is public transportation or a supermarket within walking distance so I wont be a hazard on the road. My maternal grandmother and step grandmother both knew when their eyesight got bad and took themselves off the road. Not so my paternal grandmother. She drove through a stop sign, got t-boned, went flying out the passenger side window and landed in a ditch. She died a month later of her injuries. She also was two days shy of her 84th birthday. That will not be me. My family can take my keys if and when its necessary. Some years ago a good friend of mine lost her elderly father when, while 200 miles away from home, he caused a wreck where someone died and then later died of his own injuries. He too was in his 80's. He had no business being on the road let alone driving that distance away from home. When I get old and the DMV says you failed your drivers test and you can't drive anymore, yeah sure its gonna suck but then I'm gonna remember getting the phone call about my grandmothers accident and I'm gonna be okay with that decision.
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