Driving Privilege

The physician asked him to undergo a driving evaluation. Performed by an occupational therapist, the pre-road evaluation checks mobility, reaction times and coordination. They assess the ability to move the foot from the accelerator and brake pedal while maintaining the hands on the steering wheel. Cognition, memory, judgment, attention, self-awareness and perception are recorded to determine if these areas have an impact on driving. The paper he received from the woman told him he had failed and his driving skills were sub-standard. He has distinct feelings about this woman, and reports his eyes are better than they were six months ago.

From section 322.126 (2), (3) the Florida state government mandates that “Any physician, person, or agency having knowledge of any licensed driver’s or applicant’s mental or physical disability to drive…is authorized to report such knowledge to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles… The reports authorized by this section shall be confidential… No civil or criminal action may be brought against any physician, person or agency who provides the information herein.”

Once the paperwork is submitted it is screened and forwarded to investigators who work for the division of motor vehicles. They contact the driver and submit their findings to the medical review section in Tallahassee. Investigators may interview family members, neighbors, or the driver’s physician as part of the investigation. As a result, drivers may be requested to submit a medical report from their physician, or they may be required to report to a driver license office for re-testing. If the investigator does not find any substance or validity to the complaint, no further action is taken.

The American Medical Association urges physicians to consult patients and their families about voluntarily giving up the ability to drive, and the risks they take when they continue driving. Changing driving habits and limiting driving may help. If the person steadfastly refuses to give up driving, when proven to be unsafe, physicians are urged to report their patient to the Department of Motor Vehicles, after telling them they are required to do so. The AMA states it is the duty and obligation of the doctor, to report unsafe drivers.

In Oregon, any answer of, Yes to the following three questions will result in the withdrawal of driving privileges:

1. Do you have a vision condition or impairment that has not been corrected by glasses, contacts or surgery that affects your ability to drive safely?

2. Do you have any physical or mental conditions or impairments that affect your ability to drive safely?

3. Do you use alcohol, inhalants, or controlled substances to a degree that affects your ability to drive safely?

In Oregon, the state law mandates that the primary care provider must report an unsafe driver to the DMV. The office evaluates each mandatory report and if certain criteria are met, the person’s driver license is suspended. The individual receives a Notice of Suspension in the mail, and their license suspension takes effect 5 days from the date on the notice.

Families may agonize about how to wrestle the car keys from their loved one. There are safe guards in place that protect the public from unsafe drivers, we can only hope the primary care physicians act on their duty and obligation.

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