Senate Bill No. 612
(By Senators Jenkins and Plymale)
[Introduced February 17, 2003; referred to the Committee on
Transportation; and then to the Committee on Finance.]
A BILL to amend chapter seventeen-b of the code of West Virginia,
one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, by adding
thereto a new article, designated article one-e, relating to
operating a motor vehicle; licensing; preapplication visual
acuity testing; authorizing use of bioptic telescopic devices;
and issuance of low-vision driving license.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That chapter seventeen-b of the code of West Virginia, one
thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by adding
thereto a new article, designated article one-e, to read as
ARTICLE 1E. PREAPPLICATION VISUAL ACUITY TESTING.
"Applicant" means any person applying for an instruction
permit or an operator's license who must use a bioptic telescopic device in order to operate a motor vehicle.
"Approved driver training program" means a program that
provides and coordinates comprehensive assessment and training of
driving skills and responses that emphasizes the vision, hearing,
psychological, perceptual, orientation, and mobility skills of an
applicant and that is certified by the division of motor vehicles.
"Binocular vision" means visual acuity that is 20/200 or
better in both eyes, with or without corrective lenses.
"Bioptic telescopic device" means a two focus optical system
used to magnify distant objects by including a small telescope that
is mounted in a spectacle lens in a manner to allow an unobstructed
view of the horizontal visual field through a person's normal
distance corrective lens.
"Combined visual acuity" means visual acuity attained by using
both eyes together where a person has binocular vision.
"Commissioner" means the commissioner of motor vehicles.
"Corrective lenses" means eyeglasses, contact lenses, and
intraocular lenses, but does not mean a bioptic telescopic device.
"Daytime driving restriction" means operation of a motor
vehicle is restricted to the period of time from between thirty
minutes after sunrise and thirty minutes before sunset. Under this
restriction, driving during adverse weather conditions that
significantly reduce the visibility of the roadway, other traffic,
and traffic control devices shall be prohibited.
"Department" means the department of health and human
"Division" means the division of motor vehicles.
"Monocular vision" means visual acuity that is 20/200 or
better in one eye, with or without corrective lenses.
"Restricted out-of-state driver" means a person who has been
issued, by another state, a valid operator's license with a
restriction requiring the use of a bioptic telescopic device.
"Superintendent" means the superintendent of state police.
"Vision specialist" means a licensed ophthalmologist or
"Visual acuity" means the measure of a person's visual acuity
based on the Snellen visual acuity scale.
"Visual field" means the area of physical space visible to the
eye in a given fixed position.
§17B-1E-2. Application for license or permit; visual testing;
(a) All persons applying for an initial operator's license or
an initial instruction permit under the provisions of article two
of this chapter, in addition to the requirements of article two,
must submit to a test of visual acuity and visual field at the time
(b) Persons whose visual acuity is 20/40 or better without
corrective lenses may not have a restriction placed on their driving privileges. Persons whose visual acuity is 20/40 or better
with corrective lenses shall have their driving privileges
restricted to mandate the use of the corrective lenses. If a
person fails to meet a 20/40 visual acuity standard, the division
of motor vehicles shall refer the person to a vision specialist for
(c) A person referred to a vision specialist by the division
of motor vehicles under this section whose visual acuity is 20/60
or better is eligible to test for an instruction permit or
operator's license. If corrective lenses were prescribed by the
vision specialist, the person's driving privileges shall mandate
the use of corrective lenses.
(d) Persons who meet the requirements of section three of this
article and are issued operator's licenses under section four of
this article shall have their driving privileges restricted to the
use of bioptic telescopic device.
§17B-1E-3. Approved driver training; visual standards.
(a) Applicants accepted to participate in a certified driver
training program must meet the following minimum vision
(1) A distance visual acuity of 20/20 or better, with
corrective lenses, in the applicant's better eye;
(2) A visual field of at least one hundred twenty degrees
horizontally and eighty degrees vertically in the same eye;
(3) A distance visual acuity of 20/60 or better using a
bioptic telescopic device; and
(4) No ocular diagnosis or prognosis that indicates a
likelihood that significant deterioration of visual acuity or
visual field to levels below the minimum standards outlined in this
section will occur.
(b) Upon acceptance into a certified driver training program,
an applicant must be given an examination to test his or her
knowledge of the motor vehicle laws of West Virginia. This
examination may be taken orally. Upon successful completion of
this examination, the applicant shall be issued a temporary
instruction permit, that is valid only when the applicant is
accompanied by an employee of a certified driver training program.
Temporary instruction permits issued under this section are valid
for one year from the date of issue.
(c) An applicant who successfully completes a certified driver
training program must be reexamined by a vision specialist upon
completion of the program. The examination shall certify that the
applicant continues to meet the visual acuity and visual field
standards set forth in this section.
(d) An applicant who successfully completes a certified
driving training program and passes the visual reexamination
required by this section is eligible to take a comprehensive
operator's license examination administered by the division of motor vehicles. The operator's license examination shall include
testing of the applicant's driving skills over a route specifically
designed to test the applicant's competency using a bioptic
(e) An applicant who is a restricted out-of-state driver
establishing residence in West Virginia must take and pass a
temporary instruction permit examination before being eligible to
take the operator's license examination. An applicant who is a
restricted out-of-state driver establishing residence in West
Virginia may not be required to complete a certified driver
training program, but must take and pass the visual examination
outlined in subsection (3) of this section before taking the
operator's license examination.
(f) If an applicant or restricted out-of-state driver fails
the operator's license examination three times he or she is not
eligible to retake the examination until successfully completing
additional training from a certified driver training program and
obtaining an affidavit from the program director recommending that
the applicant or restricted out-of-state driver be allowed to
retake the examination.
(g) The secretary of the department of health and human
resources shall propose rules in accordance with the provisions of
article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code that are
necessary and proper to set standards for a certified driver training program and to otherwise carry out the provisions of this
§17B-1E-4. License restrictions.
(a) The division of motor vehicles shall issue, to an
applicant who successfully passes the operator's license
examination outlined in section three of this article an operator's
license with the following restrictions:
(1) Required use of a bioptic telescopic device; and
(2) Restricted to daytime driving.
(b) A restriction to daytime driving in accordance with this
section shall be removed if the licensed driver:
(1) Drives for thirty-six months without any at-fault
accidents and without any license suspensions;
(2) Successfully completes additional evaluation and training
specifically designed for night driving from a certified driver
training program; and
(3) Passes a comprehensive night driving examination.
(c) An operator's license issued under section three of this
article is effective for one year and shall expire on the last day
of the birth month of the license holder. The license holder must
undergo a comprehensive visual examination by a vision specialist
before a license can be renewed. If the vision specialist
certifies that the conditions causing the visual impairment are
stable, then the division of motor vehicles shall issue a renewal license. If the conditions causing the visual impairment are
unstable or deteriorating, the license holder may be required to
undergo additional testing as required by the commission before a
renewal license may be issued.
§17B-1E-5. Visual testing by the division of motor vehicles.
(a) The division of motor vehicles may examine every
unlicensed applicant for an operator's license except as otherwise
provided in this section. The examination shall be held in the
county where the applicant resides unless:
(1) The applicant is granted written permission by the
division of motor vehicles and the state police agree to arrange
for the examination in the other county; or
(2) The applicant is tested using a bioptic telescopic device.
(b) The examination shall include a test of the applicant's
eyesight to ensure compliance with the visual acuity standards set
forth in section two, of this article. The examination shall also
include a test of the applicant's ability to read and understand
highway signs regulating, warning and directing traffic, the
applicant's knowledge of traffic laws and an actual demonstration
of the applicant's ability to exercise ordinary and reasonable
control in the operation of a motor vehicle. An applicant for a
motorcycle operator's license must show an ability to operate a
motorcycle, in addition to other requirements of this section. The
provisions of this subsection do not apply to an applicant who:
(1) At the time of application, holds a valid operator's
license from another state, provided that state affords a
reciprocal exemption to a West Virginia resident; or
(2) Is a citizen of the state who has been serving in the
United States military and has allowed his operator's license to
(c) Any person whose operator's license is denied, suspended,
or revoked for cause may apply for reinstatement at the termination
of the period for which the license was denied, suspended, or
revoked by submitting to the examination. The provisions of this
section do not apply to any person whose license was suspended for
failure to meet the conditions described in section four of this
article when, within one year of suspension, the driving privileges
of that individual are reinstated.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to require all applicants
for a license or learner's permit to be sight tested before
receiving a license or permit; it requires specific driving
restrictions based upon the extent of a driver's sight deficiency
with sight correcting devices and authorizing use of bioptic
This article is new; therefore, strike-throughs and
underscoring have been omitted.