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To drive with an unrestricted license in the state of Arizona, you will need a visual acuity of at least 20/40 in your better eye. Visual acuity refers to how clear and sharp your vision is, with 20/20 being the standard “normal” visual acuity.
If you need prescription glasses or contacts to see distances clearly, you can qualify for a restricted license that stipulates you must drive with your corrective lenses all the time.
If you do not meet the initial vision requirements, you will be required to see an eye care professional to determine if you qualify for a restricted license. Other licensing restrictions exist based on your field of vision and whether or not you see well enough at night to drive in the dark.
When you first apply for a driver’s license in Arizona, you will take a simple vision exam to make sure that you have a visual acuity of at least 20/40 in one eye. You will need to follow the state requirements for license renewal, which includes a vision screening when stipulated.
Vision Requirements for Licensing
The Arizona Department of Transportation (DOT) Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) requires that you have a visual acuity minimum of 20/40 in one or both of your eyes to get a license. This is measured through a standard vision test that will determine how well you can see things at a distance through each eye separately and then both eyes together.
Your field of vision is required to be at least 70 degrees temporal, referring to your peripheral vision outward, and 35 degrees nasally, which means inward toward the nose, in at least one of your eyes.
If you need prescription eyewear to see well at a distance, you can qualify for a license that has a “B” restriction. This restriction means that you will need to wear your contacts or glasses at all times when you are driving.
If you cannot pass the visual exam with an ability to see, corrected or not, at 20/40 or better, you will be referred to a vision specialist who will then do a more detailed examination and certify your ability to drive with or without restrictions.
Aside from the restriction stating that you need corrective lenses to drive when your visual acuity is less than 20/40 without correction, there are additional driving restrictions that can apply.
For example, if you are applying for a commercial driving license in the state of Arizona, you will be required to pass a vision test certifying that you are able to see and distinguish colors like red, green, and yellow. These colors are standard for traffic signals and devices.
Additional restrictions on your license can refer to your ability to see well enough to drive at night. If your monocular vison (vision in one eye) is between 20/40 and 20/50, you can receive a daytime-only restricted license. The same is true if your binocular vision (vision in both eyes) is between 20/40 and 20/70.
If you have impaired night vision, you can still receive a daytime-only restricted license, which means you can only drive during the daylight hours.
Visual Examination Report
When you are unable to pass a visual exam issued by the DOT MVD with a visual acuity of at least 20/40, with or without corrective lenses, you will be referred to a vision specialist. A vision specialist is an ophthalmologist or optometrist who can test your eyes further and determine if your vision can be corrected well enough to meet the driving requirements in Arizona
This specialist is then required to perform a comprehensive medical eye exam and submit a Vision Examination Report. This report includes the following:
- Your uncorrected visual acuity in each eye separately and both eyes together
- Your corrected visual acuity in each eye separately and both eyes together
- Your temporal and nasal visual field in each eye
- Whether you passed the vision standard either uncorrected or corrected
- If you need a corrective lens restriction
- A determination on the necessity of nighttime driving restrictions based on monocular or binocular visual acuity
- A recommendation for a daytime driving restriction
- When a bioptic telescopic lenses system is used, a determination that both the correction is 20/40 or better and the magnification is 4x or less
- A recommendation for periodic vision reports when necessary
- A determination on your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle based on vision concerns or conditions
This form constitutes a recommendation from a vision professional. Once it has been submitted to the ADOT MVD, a determination can be made on your ability to obtain a driver’s license with or without restrictions in Arizona.
Initial License & Renewal Requirements
In Arizona, you are given what is called a lifetime license up until you turn 65. At the time of your initial license application, you must pass a written test (or a verbal knowledge test), a road test, and a simple vision exam. If you are unable to meet the required 20/40 visual acuity with or without prescription eyewear, you will need a follow-up visual exam, which is more comprehensive.
You will be required to apply for a duplicate license every 12 years up to this point, which will require a quick vision exam as well. If your Vision Examination Report calls for more regular vision checks, you will need to complete those at the recommended times as well.
Once you reach age 65, you are required to apply for a duplicate license every five years, which will also require a vision exam. After the age of 70, you are no longer allowed to apply for a renewal by mail and will need to apply in person at the ADOT MVD.
Visual Acuity. American Optometric Association (AOA).
Medical and Vision Screening. Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT).
State Vision Screening and Standards for License to Drive. (April 2020). Prevent Blindness.
Arizona. National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA).
Vision Examination Report. Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT).