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Can a Doctor Revoke a Driver’s License?

In most states, doctors themselves do not have the authority to revoke a driver’s license. However, they play a critical role in the process that can lead to the revocation or suspension of a driver’s license by reporting certain medical conditions to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

Doctor Reporting and DMV Actions on Medical Conditions in California

According to SCLG, under California law, doctors are mandated to report to the DMV if a patient has a medical or mental condition that could impair their ability to drive safely [1]. While doctors cannot directly revoke a driver’s license, their report can initiate the process.

This report is called a “confidential morbidity report.”

Who Can Report to the DMV?

Although only doctors are legally required to report, other parties can also inform the DMV about medical conditions, including:

  • Law enforcement officers
  • Judges
  • Family members
  • Friends
  • Concerned private citizens
  • The individual themselves (during a driver’s license application or DMV visit)

Legal Framework
California Vehicle Code 12806 VC allows the DMV to suspend a driver’s license due to a medical condition, but only if it actually affects the person’s ability to drive safely.

DMV Actions Upon Receiving a Medical Report
When the DMV receives a medical report, it conducts an initial safety risk assessment.

Based on this assessment, the DMV can:

  1. Take No Action: If the DMV determines there is no safety risk.
  2. Request More Information: By requiring a “Driver Medical Evaluation” (DME).
  3. Schedule a Reexamination Hearing: To further assess the driver’s ability.
  4. Immediate Suspension or Revocation: In rare cases where there is an immediate safety concern.

Understanding these procedures ensures that individuals are aware of the steps involved if a medical condition potentially affects their driving capabilities. This knowledge can help in navigating the process and addressing any concerns with the DMV.

Medical Conditions that Affect Safe Driving

According to Patient Info, various medical issues, both temporary and permanent, can impair your ability to drive safely [2]. Conditions like impaired vision, poor coordination, memory or concentration problems, muscle weakness, delayed reaction times, pain, and drowsiness can all impact road safety.

Age and Driving Safety
It’s a common misconception that older drivers are less safe on the road. Although older individuals are often perceived as unreliable drivers, statistics show that young drivers, particularly those aged 17 to 19, are involved in more accidents. Despite there being seven times more older drivers than young ones, older drivers account for only one in 10 accidents. This discrepancy may be influenced by the fact that older drivers typically drive fewer miles. In California, there is no upper age limit for driving a standard vehicle, but drivers over 70 must renew their licenses every three years.

Reporting Medical Conditions
If you have a long-term medical condition that could affect your driving, it’s your responsibility to inform the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Failing to do so could invalidate your insurance. Your doctor can advise you on whether your condition might impact your driving abilities.

Epilepsy is perhaps the most obvious medical reason people shouldn’t drive – seizures can sometimes cause complete loss of consciousness with no warning. So everyone with epilepsy must inform the DVLA and as a rule, you’re not allowed to drive until you have been seizure-free for at least a year (six months after the first seizure in some cases).

Blackouts are common and often result in emergency room visits. They can be more frequent causes of accidents than seizures. If you experience a blackout while sitting, you usually need to report it to the DMV. Simple faints while standing do not require reporting, but unexplained blackouts do. The DMV will likely request additional medical information, and you may be prohibited from driving for up to a year depending on the circumstances.

Neurological Conditions
Conditions such as multiple sclerosis, motor neuron disease, and Parkinson’s disease can affect driving ability. You will need to fill out a questionnaire and may be granted a limited-term license. After a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), you must refrain from driving for at least a month and may need to inform the DMV, especially if there are lingering symptoms.

If you experience angina while at rest, driving, or during emotional stress, you must stop driving until the condition is controlled.

Certain Surgeries
Surgeries, particularly those involving the abdomen or legs, may render you temporarily unfit to drive. The key factor is whether you can safely perform an emergency stop. Consult with your healthcare provider regarding the specific regulations for your surgery before you are discharged.

Certain Medications
Some medications, like strong opioid painkillers, benzodiazepines, certain antidepressants, insulin, and sulfonylurea tablets for diabetes, can cause drowsiness or low blood sugar, affecting driving safety. Always check with your pharmacist or doctor about how your medications might impact your ability to drive.

Also Read: Medical Conditions and Driving

DMV Actions After Receiving a Medical Report About a Driver

When the DMV receives a medical report about a driver, it conducts an initial risk assessment. Based on this assessment, the DMV may take one of the following actions:

  • No Action: If the report does not indicate any risk, the DMV may decide to take no further action.
  • Request Additional Information: The DMV might request more information by sending a “Driver Medical Evaluation” (DME) form.
  • Schedule a Reexamination: The DMV may schedule a reexamination to evaluate the driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely.
  • Immediate Suspension or Revocation: In rare cases, the DMV may immediately suspend or revoke the driver’s license.

Additional DMV Actions
The DMV has several other options, often after requiring a DME or reexamination:

  • Medical Probation: The driver may be placed on medical probation and required to submit periodic medical reports.
  • Supplemental Driving Performance Evaluation: The DMV may order the driver to complete an additional driving performance evaluation.
  • Limited-Term License: The DMV might issue a limited-term license, which requires reevaluation at the end of the term.
  • Driving Restrictions: Restrictions on when and where the driver can operate a vehicle may be imposed.
  • Specified Equipment Requirements: The driver may be required to use certain equipment, such as corrective lenses.

Understanding these possible actions can help drivers and their families navigate the process and ensure compliance with DMV requirements to maintain road safety.

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