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How to pass a driver's license eye test

Updated November 21, 2016

In order to obtain any type of driver's license, you must be able to prove that you are able to see adequately enough to operate a motor vehicle, ensuring your safety and the safety of others travelling on the road. A driver's test examination consists of an eye exam, written exam and skills exam. You must pass all three before you are issued a driver's license. If you require glasses or contact lenses for corrective purposes, you are permitted to wear them during the test, but your license will state that restriction on the back. State-by-state departments of motor vehicles (DMVs) may have slightly varying requirements, so it is vital to verify vision requirements with your local DMV office (see Resources below; this article is based on the requirements for the state of California).

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  1. Arrive at your appointment at least 10 minutes early to allow time for paperwork to be completed. Be sure to bring all required documents.

  2. Ask questions if you are unclear of any policies or procedures.

  3. Put on glasses or contact lenses if you require them for driving. If you wear a low prescription you may wish to remove them prior to the test so you do not have a restricted license.

  4. Follow the employee's instructions. The DMV will administer the test either by having you read a chart on a wall in the distance or with machines called Optec 1000s. You will be tested for both eyes at the same time and then each eye alone. Minimum vision requirements are 20/40 in both eyes together, 20/40 in one eye and 20/70 in the other eye.

  5. If you passed, you will take the written portion of the exam. If you did not, you must take a visual acuity test. To pass you must receive a score of 20/200 in at least one eye.

  6. Tip

    Bring glasses or contact lenses with your current prescription to the appointment. If you wear bifocal lenses, be sure to look through the distance portion of the lens during testing.


    If you are not able to pass, the DMV will give you a referral to an optician with paperwork that needs to be completed prior to retaking the eye exam. You will not be allowed to take the skills portion of the test if you do not pass your vision test. The DMV may put restrictions on your license depending on your vision deficiency. An additional example is "driving during daylight." People with monovision may be unable to meet the minimum vision requirements.

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Things You'll Need

  • Corrective lenses or glasses (if necessary)

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