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Home » Southern California DMV Vision Requirements: Simplified

Southern California DMV Vision Requirements: Simplified

driving low vision

Have You Been Told by the DMV You Cannot Drive?
Did You Fail the DMV Vision Screening Test?
Has Your California Driver’s License Been Suspended?
Have You Been Feeling Weighed Down Due to Low Vision?

You Have Come to the Right Place
Dr. Harold Ashcraft Can Help!

Dr. Harold Ashcraft O.D. and the other Low Vision Doctors at the International Association of Eye Care Specialists have helped thousands of people drive safely, even when they have failed the DMV Vision Screening Exam or been told by the DMV they cannot drive.

In this video, Dr. Ashcraft explains how individuals with low vision conditions like macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, glaucoma, Stargardt’s Disease or other low vision conditions can remain independent and drive.

California DMV Vision Requirements

Let’s break down the vision requirements for driving in Southern California.

There are two different standards for driving in California.

First is the screening test. Pass this vision test at the DMV and you have met the vision requirements.

Second, pass the minimum visual acuity requirement of seeing better than 20/200 in one eye and have your eye doctor complete a “Report of Vision Examination” form (DL 62)”.

1) The Vision Screening Test

Here is the exact wording for the vision screening test.

Source: California DMV Vision Screening requirement from the California DMV website: (


In other words, if a person can see better than 20/40 in the better eye, and better or equal to 20/70 in the poorer eye, they pass the screening and no other vision testing or information is usually required.

What Happens if You Fail the California DMV Screening Test?
Does That Mean You Cannot Drive?

The Short Answer is, “It Depends”.

If you cannot pass the California DMV Vision Screening Requirement, it does not necessarily mean you cannot drive.

It means that the DMV needs more information about your vision.

The next step is to see an Eye Doctor (optometrist or ophthalmologist) and verify your vision is better than 20/200 in the better eye. Have them complete a California DMV “Report of Vision Examination (DL 62)” form to give the DMV additional information on your vision.

You can find the form (DL 62) here:(

2) Eye Doctor Evaluation With Completed DL62 Form

The second minimum standard is meeting the California DMV minimum vision requirement of seeing better than 20/200 in the better eye. (Notice that a one-eyed driver could still pass this test.)

Here is the exact wording from the DMV driver handbook page 20.



The important take-away from this is that before you can get a driver’s license, you need to be able to see better than 20/200 in the better eye with your best-corrected glasses or contact lenses. Although you cannot use bioptic telescope glasses to pass this requirement, you are allowed to use bioptic telescope glasses in California to see better and driver safer.

The DMV wants drivers to be safe, both for themselves and for other drivers.

Here is one of Dr. Ashcraft’s patients with macular degeneration. He failed the DMV vision screening test, but passed the second DMV Vision requirement with vision better than 20/200 in the better eye.

With a pair of bioptic telescope glasses he was able to see signs and traffic signals sooner and felt safer driving.

DMV “Report of Vision Examination” DL62 Explained

If you do not pass the DMV’s vision screening requirements, all hope is not lost. There is still the possibility of getting your driver’s license.

The DMV will give you a Report of Vision Examination (DL 62) form, which is to be filled out and signed by your eye doctor. This form provides the California DMV additional information on your vision and your vision condition and includes your doctor’s recommendations. (Dr. Harold Ashcraft also has the DL62 form if needed)

The DMV will consider questions like these:

  • What is the vision condition causing the reduced vision?
  • What is the severity of the individual’s vision condition? Is it getting worse? Is it stable?
  • Does the vision condition affect one or both eyes?
  • How is the individual’s side vision affected?
  • Can glasses, contact lenses, or surgery correct the vision?
  • When was the last vision examination? Are glasses or contact lenses up to date?
  • Has the individual received a bioptic telescope? If so, what is the vision through the bioptic?

Once the DMV has reviewed the DL 62, “Report of Vision Examination”, the California DMV will make a determination whether you pass the requirements to drive. You may still be required to take a behind-the-wheel driving test. This will demonstrate you can drive safely.

Almost 50 years ago, California became one of the first states in the country to allow individuals to drive with low vision aids. Here is the true story of Dennis Kelleher, the first licensed bioptic driver in the State of California.

image7Dennis Kelleher grew up thinking he would never be able to drive because of low vision due to albinism.

Even though he failed the standard California DMV vision screening test, he was able to pass the minimum vision requirement of better than 20/200 in the better eye with his standard glasses. In addition, he was able to see most of the letters on the 20/30 line of the vision test with the help of a bioptic telescope lens.

Dennis paved the way for Californians with low vision to safely drive using low vision devices.

On March 8, 1971, Dennis passed all California DMV Vision Requirements and became the first licensed bioptic driver in the state. As seen in his picture, Dennis wore bioptic telescope glasses.

It has been almost 50 years since Dennis got his driver’s license, and since then, many more individuals with low vision have also been able to safely pass DMV vision requirements and obtain a driver’s license.

In this video, Dr. Ashcraft’s patient Mr. Black tells us about his positive experience using bioptic telescope glasses to see clearly while driving.

Call today at 888-648-9525 to schedule a free phone consultation with Dr. Ashcraft

Dr. Ashcraft knows that living with low vision requires you to make many accommodations in your daily life. Finding ways to resume the activities you love can be challenging.

One thing can be easy, though—Talk to Dr. Ashcraft personally to discuss whether low vision aids and devices can help you live your best life and enjoy the activities you love.

Dr. Ashcraft offers a NO-COST, COMMITMENT-FREE telephone consultation to discuss the details of your vision condition and your vision goals like driving. This will give both him and you a better idea of whether you are a good fit for scheduling a low vision evaluation.

Don’t let your low vision hold you back any longer from driving, reading, watching television, or enjoying your hobbies.

To set up your FREE phone consultation, call 888-648-9525

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are the California DMV vision requirements for driving?
    Anyone who applies for an original or renewal driver license must meet the department’s visual acuity (vision) screening standard. The DMV’s vision screening standard is:

    • 20/40 with both eyes tested together, and
    • 20/40 in one eye and at least, 20/70 in the other eye.
      Minimum Visual Acuity Requirement
      Visual acuity is a person’s ability to see items clearly and sharply and to recognize small details. If you cannot meet the vision screening standard, you must have a minimum visual acuity in at least one eye better than 20/200 (best corrected). You may wear glasses or contact lenses to meet the minimum visual acuity standard but you cannot wear a bioptic telescopic or similar lens. The DMV cannot license drivers who do not meet the minimum visual acuity standard (CVC §12805).
  2. What is the definition of low vision?
    Low vision is the loss of sight which is not correctible with standard glasses, surgery or contacts lenses. Since there is still some sight with low vision, it is not complete blindness. Vision can often be improved with low vision aids.Examples of low vision conditions are age related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa and Stargardt’s disease.
  3. Does California allow individuals with low vision to drive?When certain requirements are met, people with low vision can drive in California. Bioptic telescope glasses have helped many individuals drive safely.
  4. What are low vision aids and devices?
    Low vision cannot be improved with regular prescription glasses, contact lenses, or even surgery. However, low vision aids and devices can help you see better by providing more magnification than traditional glasses. Some examples of aids and devices include E-scoop glasses, bioptic telescope glasses, microscope glasses, portable digital magnifiers, and wearable technology like eSight, IrisVision, and OrCam.
  5. What are bioptic telescope glasses?
    Custom-made bioptic telescope glasses look like standard glasses with the addition of miniature telescopes mounted onto one or both of the lenses. The telescope is located on the lens above your line of sight and magnifies images in the distance. Think of looking through the telescope as looking through binoculars. The main “carrier” glasses that you wear contain your distance prescription.
  6. How do bioptic telescope glasses work while driving?
    Driving safely with low vision presents a number of challenges. A driver has to be able to view road conditions and quickly make decisions to change lanes, speed up, or slow down. A driver must be able to clearly see road signs, traffic lights, and other cars from a distance. Bioptic glasses work best for spotting objects while driving. Most of the time you will be looking straight ahead and seeing through your distance prescriptions lenses. Then, when you need to look at a road sign, traffic light, or something in the distance, you briefly tilt your head downward to look through the telescope. In this sense, looking through the telescopes is similar to looking through a rearview mirror for just a moment.
  7. What low vision services does Dr. Ashcraft provide?

    Dr. Ashcraft offers a complimentary phone consultation for individuals with low vision to learn more about their condition and vision goals. He then offers an in-depth low vision evaluation, where patients can try on low vision aids and devices in his office.

    Not only has Dr. Ashcraft helped many people pass their DMV Vision Requirements and drive safely, but he also has resources available for your benefit, including a California-certified driving specialist (with over 30 years of experience) who can come to your home for a driving evaluation.

    Call Dr. Ashcraft today at 888-648-9525 to arrange a free
    telephone consultation to discuss your vision situation.

    We Are Open! COVID-19 ReOpening—Expectations
    During the COVID-19 pandemic, the safety and well-being of our patients, staff and doctors is our first priority. Read Safety Protocols. Please read our safety protocols here.