Bill nixing senior driving test hits House roadblock, Senate version still going

Despite clearing a key committee and gaining dozens of sponsors, legislation to halt mandatory road tests for Illinois seniors is stalled in the Illinois House, supporters said Wednesday.

The measure was sent back to the Rules Committee April 19, where it’s likely to remain in limbo, said state Rep. Jeff Keicher, chief sponsor of Bill 4431.

“I’m disappointed. Our seniors deserve better,” the Sycamore Republican said.

However, a companion bill spearheaded by Republican Sen. Don DeWitte of St. Charles is still viable in the Senate.

Illinois mandates drivers ages 79 and 80 to take a road exam if their four-year license renewal is up. For drivers ages 81 to 86, it’s every two years, and for those 87 and older, it’s yearly.

Illinois is the only state in the U.S. with that requirement.

Bill 4431 was backed by AARP, which called the policy age discrimination.

“We’re still deciding our strategy at this point,” AARP Associate State Director Jeffrey Scott said.

“The thing about it is — it’s not going away. It’s something that is very important to our members,” Scott said.

Keicher said the bill was placed on hold but it wasn’t clear by whom.

The bill has 46 Republican and Democratic sponsors, a significant number in the 118-member House. It cleared a House Transportation: Vehicles and Safety Committee April 3 with an 8-1 bipartisan vote.

DeWitte’s legislation was filed April 30.

The policy change “is about respect, it’s about compassion and it’s about understanding our senior citizens,” DeWitte said on April 16.

Numerous suburban seniors told the Daily Herald that driving is a lifeline for them to reach essential services.

“This law must be repealed so that we can join the other 49 states who have found this law to be extremely age-discriminatory,” Huntley senior Sandra Lemke said previously.

“Older seniors only drive within a short radius of their homes (for) groceries, doctor visits, church, etc. Seniors are not party-hopping, texting while driving, driving in bad weather, and driving at night,” she said.

AARP’s Scott said Bill 4431 missed the deadline for a final vote April 19 and that deadline was not extended by House leadership.

“You cannot take a vote on it this year, but I guarantee we’ll be back in the spring, if not in the fall (veto session),” he said.

AARP has pointed to a secretary of state’s office study concluding Illinois motorists age 75 or older had a crash rate of 24.39 per 1,000 drivers, the second lowest in the state. That means 15,468 out of 634,148 licensed drivers 75 and older were in crashes, according to 2022 data.

However, some have countered that tests for seniors could be the reason crash rates are low for that demographic in Illinois.

Longtime Democratic state Rep. Fred Crespo of Hoffman Estates supports Bill 4431.

“Usually when there’s a hold on a bill, there’s a reason for it,” Crespo said. “It could be it costs a lot of money (or) it has a lot of opposition, but on this one I don’t know.”

With so much percolating in Springfield including the budget, “my hope is if there’s no action now, we do come back in veto session and hopefully have time to work on it,” he said.

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