‘Too old’ for 10-year driver’s licence

Testing time: Anna Beniuk was more than a little surprised to be told she was too old to have a 10-year driver's licence. Picture: Adam McLean.
Testing time: Anna Beniuk was more than a little surprised to be told she was too old to have a 10-year driver's licence. Picture: Adam McLean.

When Anna Beniuk went into renew her licence, she didn’t see this coming.

She was told that she was too old to get the 10-year licence she wanted – so she wouldn’t have to worry about renewing it for a decade.

Ms Beniuk went into a Service NSW office to renew her licence rather than do it online, where the best she could get was a five-year licence.

She found the visit “one of the nicest experiences in dealing with a government department I’ve had in a long time” – until this happened.

“When I got to the counter, she said, you want the 10 years, and I said yes,” Ms Beniuk said.

“I handed over my existing licence and she took one look at it and said ‘I’m sorry, just because of your age we can only do a maximum of five years’.”

The 46-year-old was initially taken aback, and then she heard the reason. 

It wasn’t an ageist thing, rather the woman behind the counter told her that it was a Roads and Maritime Service requirement that anyone older than 44 had to submit to an eye test every five years.

So a 10-year licence was out of the question.

“Once I got over the initial shock of being in that age category, it all made sense to me,” Ms Beniuk joked.

“I didn’t think this would start happening yet, I thought I would have had a few more years to go before my age became a factor.”

The advice she was given is absolutely correct – once you’re older than 44 there’s no more 10-year licences for you.

At the lower end, anyone younger than 21 isn’t eligible either – though not for eyesight reasons.

“The 10-year driver licence option is restricted to the 21 to 44 year age group to minimise the risks of misidentification due to facial changes in young adults under 21,” a Roads and Maritime Services spokeswoman said.

“Additionally, the 21 to 44 year age group is currently not required to undertake an eyesight test every five years.”

For what it’s worth, Ms Beniuk passed the eyesight test.

By the way, if you’re about to turn 43 and are considering an early renewal to get that 10-year licence, there is a wrinkle in your plan.

RMS only allows early renewals in the six months before your licence expires.