Driver Safety Information Lapses of Consciousness Disorders

Disorders characterized by lapses of consciousness result from many medical conditions. Epilepsy is the most common disorder seen by the department. Regulations governing lapses of consciousness disorders are contained in Article 2.4, Sections 110.01 and 110.02, of Title 13, California Code of Regulations.

Epilepsy is not a disease. It can occur at any age and can also remit spontaneously. Epilepsy is a condition characterized by two or more recurring seizures. While the causes of epilepsy are not always known, seizures can be caused by anything that impairs normal brain function such as trauma, tumor, infection, genetics, stroke, injury, injury at birth, metabolic imbalances, high fever, or an overdose of toxins from alcohol or drugs. Sleep disorders can also manifest themselves as a loss of awareness or loss of consciousness. Some lapse of consciousness disorders cannot be corrected.

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Actions Appropriate to Lapse of Consciousness Disorders

The guidelines describe different situations in which the following actions should be taken after evaluating a driver with a lapse of consciousness disorder.

  • No action
  • Medical probation Type II
  • Medical probation Type III
  • Suspension
  • Revocation
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Medical Probations

The department has the authority under Vehicle Code Section 14250, to place a person's driving privilege on probation in lieu of suspension or revocation. A medical probation allows the department to monitor the driver's medical condition on an ongoing basis.

There are two medical probations that are appropriate for drivers with lapse of consciousness disorders, Medical Probation Type II and Type III.

Placing a person on medical probation allows drivers with controlled epilepsy and other disorders characterized by a lapse of consciousness to continue driving. A medical probation is only to be used when control of a lapse of consciousness disorder has been achieved for at least three months.

  • Medical probation Type II is for drivers who have achieved three to five months of control. The driver is required to authorize his/her treating physician to complete the Driver Medical Evaluation (form DS 326) and submit it to the department on a prescribed basis.

The decision to place a driver on Medical probation Type II should be based on a combination of considerations. The main factors include but are not limited to:

  • Seizure type
  • Seizure manifestations
  • Seizure, medical and lifestyle history
  • The seizure-free period prior to the last episode
  • Medical probation Type III is for drivers who have achieved six or more months of control, but due to contributing factors there is a slight possibility of another seizure. Medical probation Type III requires the driver to report, in writing, on a regular basis to the department on the status of his/her disorder. The Medical Probation Reporting form (DS 346) is used by drivers on Type III probation, and the driver must sign the form under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the information provided is true and correct. (See Appendix B.) The decision to place a driver on Medical probation Type III should be based on the driver's medical history and established reliability. The main medical factors to consider include, but are not limited to:
  • Seizure type
  • Seizure manifestations
  • Seizure, medical and lifestyle history
  • The seizure-free period prior to the last episode

The major reliability factor to consider is the driver's likelihood of complying honestly. Medical Probation Type III should be considered self-monitoring and should not be imposed if the driver has exhibited past evidence of:

  • Noncompliance
  • Withholding information from a physician or the department
  • Inconsistent statements

No probation is needed for drivers who have achieved six or more months of control and there are no coexisting medication conditions that would aggravate the driver's seizures or impair the driver's ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.

The department has the authority under Vehicle Code Section 14251 to terminate or modify the conditions of probation whenever good cause exists. If it appears that a driver's lapse of consciousness disorder has become unstable or it is suspected that the information reported is fraudulent, the driver will be requested to have his/her physician complete a Driver Medical Evaluation. If necessary, a reexamination will be scheduled or an immediate suspension of the driving privilege imposed.

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Imposing Licensing Actions:

The attached Lapse of Consciousness Consolidation Table and Glossary of Terms provides a range of licensing actions that can be taken for each lapse of consciousness disorder. The table describes ranges of severity, contributing factors, and information on functional driving impairments. It lists factors to consider when evaluating a driver; and provides a range of actions for various lapse of consciousness disorders. Immediate action will be taken against the driving privilege if evidence indicates that the condition renders the person unsafe to drive. The driver may request a hearing after receiving a notice of suspension or revocation.