DMV pilot program driven by baby boomers on road?

LOS ANGELES -- Down the road, getting a California driver's license could get a lot tougher.

The state is considering using more extensive tests to evaluate a driver's memory, reflexes and vision to identify people who shouldn't be behind the wheel.

The proposed program comes at a time when more aging baby boomers are on California's congested roads, though the Department of Motor Vehicles insists that older drivers are not the targets.

The agency expects to reach preliminary conclusions by 2010 and report to state lawmakers the next year, DMV spokesman Michael Marando said.

The earliest that all California drivers could face the new tests would be 2012, and then only with the Legislature's approval.

Over the past few months, DMV officials in six Northern California offices conducted a trial run of the new tests, which were given to English-speaking drivers who were unable to renew their licenses by mail. Those drivers were 70 or older, or didn't have clean driving records. The DMV did not release the results.

The first test checks for obvious physical limitations, such as being unable to walk to the counter unaided. Another exam is an eye test in which the chart's letters fade from black to very light gray on a white background, which could show that a driver might not easily see a white truck in fog or a dark car parked in the shade.

A third test requires motorists to write down their Social Security numbers by memory, or their ZIP code, if they don't have the former.