PennDOT eases restrictions on visually impaired drivers

Regional News

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) announced Pennsylvania residents can now use bioptic telescope lenses to obtain a learner’s permit and earn a driver’s license.

“This law makes significant changes that will ultimately increase many of our residents’ independence and enhance their quality of life”, PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian said.

The law amends part of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code by allowing drivers with a visual activity less than 20/100 combined but with at least 20/200 visual activity in the best-corrected eye, to be eligible to apply for a Bioptic Telescope Learner’s Permit.

In order to be eligible, the individual must:

  • Pass a complete vision examination completed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist;
  • Have possessed a Bioptic Telescope Lens for at least 3 months;
  • Undergo a minimum of 10 hours of front seat passenger-in-car instruction with a Low-Vision Rehabilitation Professional; and
  • Provide the Department a letter of enrollment with a PennDOT approved Certified Driving Instructor (CDI) or Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist (CDRS).

Once all requirements have been met, the applicant may apply for a Bioptic Telescope Learner’s Permit. Upon successful completion of PennDOT’s knowledge test, the applicant must complete a minimum of 20 hours behind-the-wheel driver training using the Bioptic Telescope with a PennDOT approved (CDI) or (CDRS), plus 45 hours of observed driving hours with a licensed person who is age 21 or older in order to complete the 65 hours of accompanied driving required and reassessed by a PennDOT approved CDI or CDRS before taking the skills exam.

Bioptic telescope drivers may only drive during daylight hours, are limited to roads other than freeways and may only drive passenger vehicles weighing no more than 10,000 pounds.

For more information on Driver and Vehicle Services, visit PennDOT’s website.

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