DMV Vision exam requirement

A 20/40 visual acuity with or without glasses is the department’s vision guideline. Applicants applying for a Class A, B, or commercial C license must see 20/40 with both eyes and each eye individually. The departmental authority for administering the vision exam is 12804.9 (a) (1) (E) of the California Vehicle Code.

Visual acuity measurements are obtained for both eyes together and for each eye separately while both eyes remain open, as in normal driving. There are two methods of testing, a Snellen chart or Optec 1000 Vision Tester.

The Snellen chart contains five lines of letters and measures the portion of an applicant’s general seeing ability, known as visual acuity or keenness of vision. The Optec 1000 Vision Tester obtains a more precise vision score by providing a test situation, which is equivalent to placing the applicant at one end of a room 26 feet long to read a test target at the opposite end of the room.

Applicants who do not pass either exams may, depending on the circumstances, be referred to a vision specialist. The vision specialist may prescribe eye glasses or a stronger prescription for the current eye glasses worn.