85-Year-Old Driver Suing To Get His Driver’s License Back

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – A Grand Rapids man who’s been driving for the past 70 years said he is the victim of age discrimination.  The Secretary of State restricted Carl Hainer’s license and now he plans to sue to get it back.

Hainer said just three days after his 85th birthday he received a letter from the SOS asking him to fill out the included health forms and come into a branch for a driving exam.

Hainer said the timing of the letter makes him feel as if he was targeted due to his age, not his ability to drive a car.

He said it’s a rare occasion when he does get behind the wheel of his Ford Explorer, only driving about 10 miles a week to the grocery, the pharmacy and the doctor’s office.

They were trips he used to take alone. “Yesterday, my son took us to the supermarket,” he said.

Due to Hainer’s restricted license, he is compelled by law to have a licensed driver accompany him whenever he chooses to drive.

A restriction that he said tugs at his pride.

“It feels like you can still do things yourself that you are not allowed to do,” he said, fighting back tears.  “You are getting kicked to the curb before your time.”

It’s something he plans to fight in federal court.  Hainer admits that he failed a driving test given by the Secretary of State after he turned 85 but he argues the test should never have been given in the first place.

“I felt I was profiled and age discriminated against then,” he said.

We spoke with Fred Woodhams from the Secretary of State’s Office who said they will administer tests to drivers when they get written complaints.  Typically those complaints come from family members, police or a doctor.

Woodhams said it happens about 400 times a month in Michigan.  The referral form can be filled out by visiting the Secretary of State’s website.

Hainer said he doesn’t know who would have referred him to take a test with the SOS and is skeptical that anyone did in this case.

He has already tried to fight his case in a Kent County Circuit Court, the case was thrown out.

“The judge didn’t get the scope of the initial intrusion,” said Hainer.  “They just got the tail end there where I failed my test.”

Hainer does not have a court date set in federal court and said he plans to see it through because he’s convinced other people are in his same position.

3 comments

  • JLT

    Perhaps a little more "investigative" reporting would be in order. As the son of a 92 year old that won't give up his driver's license – and probably should – the SOS does not simply target old folks. Someone had to file a request. Find out who it is. Recently there was an article about a 101 year old lady who died and was still driving at her age. Mr. Hainer may have run over one to many trash cans or come too close to pedestrians. Who knows. Your reporting of this sob story casts a dubious slant on the SOS. Perhaps we should demand that all drivers over 75 be given an annual road test. The SOS renewed my father's driver's license by mail. We were all hoping for at least a vision and hearing test.

  • Heather

    I'm sorry that he has to go through this but the fact is, whether he thinks the test should have been given or not, he still FAILED the test. It is so sad to see privileges taken away and I can't imagine how it feels to the person that it has happened too but in this case, maybe it is a good thing he had to take the test. He thinks he is capable but what about the family of the person who he runs into or his family if he kills himself in the car……… just a sad situation all together

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