Why is the DMV concerned about drivers with Diabetes? The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is an enormously powerful government entity, empowered by the California Legislature to ensure that all persons operating motor vehicles maintain the physical and mental capacity to do so. If the DMV learns from any source that a particular driver may have developed any condition that could impair their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, the department will either refuse to issue that person a driver license, or may suspend/revoke an existing driver license.
A recent study revealed that as many a 19 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with diabetes. As America becomes heavier and heavier, it is estimated that the instance of diabetes will increase exponentially. Today it is believed that 13.9% of high school kids are obese and an additional 16.0% are overweight. Even though diabetes can be genetically passed among family members, there is significant evidence to suggest that poor diet and a lack of exercise are large factors in this growing problem.
Because a driver diagnosed with diabetes mellitus may suffer with a variety of medical or physical issues that affect their ability to drive, the California DMV has developed a policy of aggressive oversight to ensure that the public roadways remain as safe as possible.
A driver diagnosed with diabetes is subject to episodes of Hypoglycemia or Hyperglycemia, which may cause them to experience altered perception or even a lapse of consciousness. If this were to occur while driving, the results could be devastating. Additionally, a driver diagnosed with diabetes may develop vision problems, such as retinopathy or cataracts. Such a driver may also experience problems with neuropathy that could affect their ability to feel a vehicle’s control pedals.
If the DMV learns that a driver or applicant for a license has been diagnosed with diabetes, the department may initiate a “re-examination” to determine if the driver is safe to drive.
How does the DMV learn that I have Diabetes? The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is deeply wired into the fabric of our society and may receive information regarding a person’s physical or mental health from a variety of sources:
- Law Enforcement Officer: The DMV will often receive information from a law enforcement officer who has come into contact with a diabetic driver at the scene of a traffic accident or other enforcement scenario.
- Physicians: California Law actually mandates that a physician report any physical or mental issue to the DMV if it could affect that person’s ability to drive. Most often, doctors will report a driver to the DMV when they learn he/she has suffered an episode of hyperglycemia, hyperglycemia or any lapse of consciousness or control.
- Family members: It is not unusual for a family member to report a diabetic driver to the DMV because of their concern that their loved one’s diabetes makes them unsafe to drive.
- Driver Self Reporting: That’s right………. it often occurs that a driver will bring themselves under scrutiny of the DMV. This most often occurs when a person who is apply for an original driver license, or a driver who is seeking to renew their license, checks a block on an application form that alerts the DMV to a diagnosis of diabetes.
- Anonymous Sources: At times, the DMV will receive a “tip” from an anonymous source that a driver suffers with diabetes and may not be safe to drive. Even though the source of the information may not be known; and even though the validity of the information may be questionable, the DMV is still mandated to investigate.
How does the DMV evaluate a driver with Diabetes? Remember, it is the DMV’s stated goal to ensure the driving safety of all drivers on California’s roadways. If the DMV receives information that a diabetic driver may not be able to drive safely, the department will either order the driver in for a “re-examination” interview or they may advance directly to an “immediate” Order of Suspension. Normally an immediate order of suspension occurs following a traffic accident or some other event that suggests there is an immediate need to protect the public.
Re-Examination Interview If the DMV receives information from any source that a person suffers with diabetes that may affect safe driving, the department will send the driver a “Notice of Re-Examination” Appointment. Contained within the same envelope will be a Driver Medical Evaluation (DME) to be prepared and signed by the person’s physician.
When the Re-Examination Interview occurs, the assigned hearing officer will review all relevant evidence and will interview the affected driver. At the end of the re-examination interview, the hearing officer may:
-Terminate any further action.
-Place the person on medical probation.
-Suspend or revoke the driver license.
If a re-examination interview results in a suspension/revocation of the driver license, the affected driver is then entitled to conduct a full-blown evidentiary hearing to reverse the decision.
Immediate Suspension: If the DMV receives information from any source which suggests that a diabetic driver poses an immediate hazard to the safety of the public, it will issue an immediate “Order of Suspension.” This normally occurs when a driver has suffered a Lapse of Consciousness during an event of hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia. If a driver receives an immediate “Order of Suspension/Revocation” in the mail, the re-examination interview is bypassed and the driver becomes immediately available for a hearing. Known as a Physical and Mental Hearing, this is a full-blown evidentiary hearing where evidence is presented, witnesses may testify, experts may offer opinions, and legal arguments are heard. This is a complex legal process that should be conducted by professionals in the field.
If the DMV has suspended my driver license for Diabetes, what can I do? Whether your case requires a “Re-Examination” Interview or a Physical and Mental Hearing; information is the key to success. Call the DMV Defense Experts at California Drivers Advocates (CDA). We have been conducting every type of administrative hearing before the DMV for many years. We know what they do and we know how to fight back. If your case requires a Re-Examination Interview, we’ll simply tell you how to prepare and what to do. If your case requires a full Physical and Mental Hearing, we’ll be ready to jump into your case.