This is another blog post on Elder Law, such for seniors and their families, particularly spouses, adult children, caregivers, etc. The subject is the “SENIOR DRIVER.” It’s the 3rd of a 3-part blog mini series, which will address some of the major rules as for example on the renewal of the driving license of an older person, the driver’s license review process (encompassing a medical exam, vision test and senior driving test), the issuance of a restricted driving permit, etc.
Vol. 11, #14.3A – Oct. 21, 2019–ALLAN GOLD’S BLOG
SAAQ/MTO/DMV: SENIOR DRIVER’S LICENCE ISSUES CONT’D (Part 3A)
A. OPENING: THE DRIVER’S LICENCE IN CANADA
I’m pleased that you have remained in the convoy of Canadian senior drivers wanting to learn more about the rules regarding the licence to drive, particularly when they’re older. So please stay buckled up and here we go again!
A.1 Driver’s Licence.
The starting point is the definition of a driver’s licence. Simply put, it’s the required registration of an individual so that he/she can lawfully drive a motor vehicle on public roads. The major aspects are as follows.
- It’s not a right. The key notion is that it’s NOT a right, which you hold as a citizen. Instead, it’s a privilege, which a province can grant to you, provided (and as long as) you have the qualifications; but which, it may withdraw, if and when, you no longer meet the eligibility criteria. And that’s the underlying fact, which you must always keep in mind.
- There are basic requirements. When applying for a licence, you need to be a resident of the relevant province. In Quebec, you would address your application to the Société de l ‘assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ). In Ontario, the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) is the government department, which controls driver’s licences and vehicle registration. However, Service Ontario is the front line organization principally dealing with the public in this regard. In British Columbia, it’s the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) – it has driver licensing offices. In general, you must, at minimum, be 16 years old and have one or more forms of personal identification.
- It has an expiry date. This privilege to drive has a term, that is to say – it’s valid only for a limited time, after which, it will have expired.
- It’s conditional upon paying a charge. To secure (and maintain) this driving privilege, you have the obligation to pay a charge, which I equate to be something of a user fee. Depending on the province, the annual fee to secure and retain this driving privilege might also include an administrative cost, insurance contribution that depends on your driving record, etc.
- Variety of classes. There are different kinds of licences offered in each jurisdiction. In Quebec, the average automobile driver would have a Class 5 licence. This allows an individual to operate a passenger vehicle, or any double-axle truck or road tractor with a net mass of less than 4,500 kg.
- “Licence” versus “Permit.” Is there a difference between the two? When used in the context of driving a motor vehicle, some people use these words interchangeably because they perceive them to be the same. But for others, these words mean different things. In Quebec, regardless that the equivalent phrase in French for driver’s licence is “permis de conduire” and whilst there’s the Class 5 driver’s licence, I would say that a driver’s permit allows individuals to drive on public roads subject to one or more restrictions. One instance would be where an individual has a restricted permit following the suspension of license for demerit points. (N.B. Such a permit might be granted when an applicant makes an application to the Court of Québec, seeking a court order that the SAAQ issue such a permit. The period could be 3, 6, 12 months or sometimes more. It generally would allow that person to drive only for work as part of his/her principal means of earning a living.) In addition, conditions can be added to a driver’s license for the purpose of safety. Such would relate to the driver’s state of health or disability, his/her alcohol-related health problems, a criminal conviction for driving while impaired by alcohol, drugs or other substances.
B. RULES PERTAINING TO THE OLDER DRIVER: Since you were a child, there were many rules drilled into you. And you probably heard the statement, “The rules are the rules.” Indeed, from The Catcher in the Rye, there was the statement, “Life is a game that one plays according to the rules.” Now that you’re older, you may appreciate a few quotes that I just found on topic, notably, “The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions.” & “It is a good idea to obey all the rules when you’re young just so you’ll have the strength to break them when you’re old.” (Source: www.wiseoldsayings.com › rules-quotes) Ha Ha – I’m just kidding. Seriously though, there’s nothing good that may arise, should you ignore the driver’s licence rules and abuse the privilege to drive. Of course, you’re just increasing your chance of getting hurt, all the while, also endangering family and friends and putting the general public at risk.
B.1Québec: Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ)
Legally speaking, I must start with the laws and regulations. Without being exhaustive, reference is made to the following: (a) Code de la sécurité routière (L.R .Q., c. C -24.2), articles 73, 76, 76.1.1, 76.1.2, 76.1.4, 76.1.9, 81 à 83, 109, 552;; (b) Règlement sur les permis (R.R.Q., c. C -24.2, r.3.1.1) , articles 7, 10, 12, 17, 24, 25, 32, 42, 43;; (c) Règlement sur les conditions d’accès à la conduite d’un véhicule routier relatives à la santé des conducteurs (R.R.Q., c. C -24.2, r.0.1.001), etc. (Source: https://saaq.gouv.qc.ca/fileadmin/documents/publications/acces-information/verification-etat-sante-comportement.pdf)
B.1.1 Renewal Of The Driving License Of An Older Person. The general rule is that every year, the SAAQ sends the license holder a notice of renewal. In this printed notice, it sets the renewal deadline (corresponding to date of birth), the total of the annual fees payable in that year, etc. (N.B. Please note that a driver’s licence holder has to renew the plasticized ID every 4 or 8 years. In such a year, on receiving the renewal notice, he/she must go to a SAAQ service outlet prior to the payment due date and have a photo taken, pay the cost of the photo, the insurance contribution and annual licence fee. It will be mailed thereafter.) Such printed notice also contains a section described as the “La Déclaration de maladie ou de déficit fonctionnel relative à l’état de santé.” Regardless of the driving licence class or age, this declaration of illness or functional deficiency is where he/she MUST report, any health problem that may affect his/her ability to drive safely. In other words, if there’s such a change in health, he/she is obliged to so inform the SAAQ. If you’re wondering about the time frame, depending on the circumstances, it’s (a) Before obtaining a driver’s licence or a new class of license; (b) On renewing your driver’s licence; or (c) Within 30 days after receiving a diagnosis. As to the how, the best way for me in dealing with this issue is to fill out this medical declaration form. On the other hand, a telephone call may be quicker. The number for the Québec region is 418-643-5506 while it’s 1 800 561-2858 elsewhere in Québec, Canada or the United States. In addition, you may send an e-mail via https://saaq.gouv.qc.ca/en/secure-mail/ (Commentary: With the renewal of a driving licence, “It’s renew it (and use it) or lose it.” When it comes to making this declaration, I encourage you to be a man or woman ‘of very few words.’ I mean to say that you should answer the question on the form…no more or less. If making a disclosure orally or by e-mail, be precise and reproduce the keys words of the diagnosis. To be clear, give the facts, not your perception of the significance of the facts. State what needs to be said. And do not use flowery language. This is not due to a desire to “dipsy doodle.” Instead, it’s out of concern that words inadvertently used may later come back to bite you in the ass!
You know about rules – there’s rules, rules and even more rules. Please keep your radio dial on this station and stay tuned. There’s even more to come!*
D. PREVIEW OF NEXT IN THE ELDER LAW BLOG SERIES. I believe that with this blog series on elder law, I may have started you along the way to being more aware of elder law. Continuing on with the subject of the aged driver, I started in today’s part, my brief review of the licensing rules. Next time, I shall provide the concluding part. Interested? Want to get more information about the current topic, retirement planning, or other areas of elder law written by an “avocat,” one of the family law lawyers, family lawyers Montreal, practicing in the elder law field? See you next time. It won’t take too much time. Remember my byline – it’s “Gold’s Legal Minute*GLM*!” And don’t forget to join my professional community by entering your e-mail at the prompt. *
E. NOTICE – CAUTION –DISCLAIMER. The material provided herein is of a general nature, strictly for informational purposes. The interpretation and analysis is not to be misapplied to a personal situation with a particular set of facts. Under no circumstances, are the herein suggestions and tips, intended to bring a reader to the point of acting or not acting, but instead, the hope is that they are to be a cause for pause and reflection. It is specifically declared that this content is not to be a replacement of, or a substitution for, legal or any other appropriate advice. To the contrary, for more information on these presents, related subjects or any other questions, it is the express recommendation of the author that everyone seek out and consult a qualified professional or competent adviser.
* ©/TM 2019, 2015-2018, Allan Gold, Practitioners’ Press Inc. – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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