The following describes what DMV takes into account when evaluating drivers for issues that may impair their ability to drive.
- California Vehicle Code (CVC) §§12806 and 12809 authorize DMV to refuse to issue or renew a driver license (DL) to someone who cannot safely operate a motor vehicle due to reasons relating to physical or mental conditions.
- CVC §12814 permits DMV to administer certain tests and perform a reexamination to drivers upon renewal of a DL.
- CVC §13800 allows DMV to make an investigation and perform a reexamination of a driver.
- CVC §12818 authorizes priority reexamination of a driver for reasons relating to a physical or mental condition which impairs the driving ability, and CVC §13953 permits immediate suspension or revocation of the DL.
- CVC §13359 authorizes DMV to suspend or revoke a DL on any grounds pertaining to refusal of DL.
- Health and Safety Code §103900 mandates DMV to develop guidelines to help DMV monitor the conditions of patients affected with disorders described below.
What Qualifications Does DMV Use to Investigate or Reexamine Drivers?
DMV uses several qualifications to determine whether the driver has the necessary physical and mental skills to safely operate a motor vehicle.
- Proper integration/interpretation of sensory input.
- Focus of attention.
- Proper associations of thought.
- Appropriate judgment.
- Rules of the road (written/oral test results).
- Operation of vehicular controls.
- Ability to steer, coordinate pedals, control gearshift.
- Ability to scan left/right, over shoulder, use mirrors.
Physical or Mental Condition and History
- What is the condition? Is there a diagnosis?
- Specific symptoms.
- Onset of condition.
- Date of last episode or when symptoms last experienced.
- Current status. Are symptoms continuing or recurring?
- Specific cause of condition.
- Consistency with information in DMV’s records.
- Results of any medical tests.
- Physician’s evaluation/prognosis.
- Alcohol use/abuse.
- Drug use/abuse.
- Sleep deprivation.
- Poor diet/nutrition.
- Physical over-exertion.
- Inability/unwillingness to control/avoid aggravating circumstances.
- Effectiveness of prescription.
- Side effects.
- Other medical regimen prescribed:
- Sufficient sleep.
- Avoidance of stress.
- Avoidance of specific activities.
- Follow up examinations/consultations.
- Supplementary oxygen.
- Compliance with prescribed regimen.
DMV considers all of these conditions independently and together in order to arrive at a decision. There must be sufficient facts to support any DMV action. DMV considers the following factors:
- Driving record and circumstances of accidents, if any.
- Characteristics about driving that bear consideration.
- Amount of traffic.
- Area of residence (rural vs. urban).
- Amount of time spent driving.
- Time of day (effect on vision/traffic).
- Availability of and access to food, sleep, medication.
The following factors may indicate the driver is able to compensate for a physical or mental condition or disability that would otherwise impair their ability to drive:
Adjustment or Selection of Equipment
- Type of vehicle.
- Automatic transmission.
- Type of controls:
- Steering knob.
- Hand controls.
- Extra mirrors.
- Power steering.
Adjustment in Physical Habits
- Scanning techniques.
- Following distance.
- Choice of lane.
- Brake usage.
Adjustment in Driving Environment
- Hour of day.
- Amount of driving/mileage.
- Avoidance of certain weather conditions.
- Avoidance of certain routes/intersections.
- Combining destinations into single trips.
- The driver is aware of and able to articulate the details/specifics of the condition, regimen or treatment.
- The driver shows appropriate concern about the condition and its relation to traffic safety and personal responsibility.
Sometimes, DMV could decide that taking action against the driving privilege is not the appropriate course of action. DMV may also find that a condition exists which warrants:
- Reexamination on a specified date (calendar reexamination).
- Medical Probation I: driver must comply with medical regimen and report any changes to DMV.
- Medical Probation II: annual medical reports required to be submitted to DMV on specified dates.
- Limited Term Licenses: DL issued by the field office for one to two years which requires the driver to return to the department for reevaluation and/or testing.
CVC §14100 states that the driver has the right to request a hearing within 10 days after they receive the notice of the order of DL suspension or revocation if DMV’s decision is based on a documented medical condition or disability.
Requesting a hearing will not prevent DMV from taking action against a condition which prevents an immediate driving hazard or risk (CVC §13953).
If the driver requests a hearing, the driver has an opportunity to dispute DMV’s evidence or provide new medical evidence to show that the action should not be sustained. Actions will not be terminated until DMV receives sufficient evidence that demonstrates that the cause for the suspension/revocation does not make the driver incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle.
The hearing officer will consider medical evidence and results of any examination as it relates to the physical and mental requirements and driving factors previously covered in the reexamination investigation section.