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If legal Oregon resident, you're required to surrender out-of-state license immediately

My 91-year-old aunt has been a legal, full-time resident of Oregon since January 2008. She passed the written test for an Oregon driver's license after three tries. She failed the road test four times and must wait a full year before she tests again. My aunt believes her California driver's license (expiration date 2012) allows her to legally drive in Oregon. She also is using her California handicapped placard when she parks in handicapped spots. Can you comment?

I have enlisted the help of professionals with this matter, but I thought it might be useful for other people dealing with proud, stubborn, elderly relatives to see it written out. — K.L.

Convincing elderly drivers to surrender their driving privileges has got to be one of the hardest things to do and must be handled with tact and compassion. However, an unsafe driver needs to be taken off the road if that is the case. Sounds like your aunt may qualify after so many failures in the written and practical tests. If there is a concern, family members, doctors and police officers can turn in written requests for retesting, but there must be good documentation on the reason for requesting the retest.

But I digress and need to answer your posed questions. When someone becomes a resident of Oregon, generally proved by actions, such as buying a house, getting a job, enrolling children in schools, etc., then the Oregon requirement is that they immediately surrender their out-of-state license and get an Oregon license. There is a common misconception that you have 30 days to do this, but that's not the case, again, the requirement is immediately.

As someone enforcing the laws, I'm willing to give some sort of grace period to get this done, and 30 days is a comfortable one for me. But it sounds like your aunt's now in the year-and-a-half time frame and therefore could be cited if pulled over for not having a valid Oregon driver's license, even though the California license has yet to expire. Being cited for this is a Class B violation, with the fine listed as $242.

Basically, the same goes for the disabled placard. Out-of-state placards are honored in Oregon, and by our enforcement program, but if the person is a resident of this state, then they should have exchanged the old California placard for an Oregon placard.

Dace Cochran, a patrol sergeant with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, writes a weekly Q&A column on police issues for the Mail Tribune. Have a question for him? Write to Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501, or e-mail cochradc@jacksoncounty.org.