When used properly, you – and not just the DMV – can also use a DME to:
- show the Department that despite a physical or mental condition,
- you are still a safe driver and license suspension is not warranted.
Note that medical conditions often lead to elderly drivers losing their licenses. That said, drivers of any age can lose driving privileges because of medical conditions such as:
- Lapse of consciousness,
- Alzheimer’s disease,
- Narcolepsy, and
The DMV can suspend a license for any medical condition that adversely affects your driving ability.
Note that if the DMV labels you as unsuitable to drive because of your health, you can:
- request a DMV hearing, and
- attempt to challenge the Department’s decision.
Our DMV hearing attorneys will highlight the following in this article:
- 1. What is a Driver Medical Evaluation?
- 2. How does the evaluation work?
- 3. Does a condition have to be related to driving for a suspension?
- 4. Does the DMV have the authority to suspend my license because of my health?
- 5. Can I challenge a license suspension because of a medical condition?
- Additional resources
1. What is a Driver Medical Evaluation?
A DME is a medical document that the California DMV uses to:
- evaluate your medical and physical health, and
- do so, in relation to your safe driving ability.1
In using the DME, the DMV can suspend your driving privileges if:
- the Department finds that you suffer from a mental/physical condition, and
- that condition poses a risk to the safety of other drivers.2
What does the DME document contain?
The evaluation itself is a five-page document. The first page requires you to complete a brief health history. The remainder of the form requires your physician to provide information on:
- treatment, and
- level of functional impairment, if any.
Specific sections of the form address:
- lapses of consciousness,
- dementia, and
- cognitive impairments.
What medical conditions can lead to suspension?
Some conditions that result in a driver’s license suspension include:
- Lapse of consciousness
- Alzheimer’s disease,
- Diabetes, and
- Macular degeneration.
Any condition that affects your driving ability can lead to a suspended license.
2. How does the evaluation work?
A DME is used in one of two ways. First, the DMV sends the evaluation form to you. It asks:
- you to complete the first page of the form, and
- your physician to complete the remainder of the form.
You are then asked to return the form to the DMV. The Department reviews the document and then decides whether to impose a license suspension.
The second way a DME is used is when you obtain an evaluation on your own.
You then take it to your doctor for:
- an examination, and
- completion of the form.
You then submit the document to a hearing officer at a DMV hearing. In this method, the DME is used as direct evidence showing an ability to drive safely.
3. Does a condition have to be related to driving for a suspension?
The DMV cannot suspend your driving privileges for just any medical condition.
The Department can only do so if there is a nexus between the condition and safe driving.3 A nexus just means that the condition is causing a loss in driving ability.
The DMV considers the following factors to see if this connection exists:
- the nature and extent of the medical condition,
- whether the condition is temporary or permanent,
- the number of miles you drive,
- the time of day you drive, and
- the area in which you travel.4
4. Does the DMV have the authority to suspend my license because of my health?
The California Vehicle Code authorizes the department to:
- suspend your driving privileges, and
- do so for reasons relating to physical or mental conditions.5
These laws also allow the Department to investigate you and perform a DMV reexamination.6
5. Can I challenge a license suspension because of a medical condition?
You can challenge a DMV decision to suspend your license. The challenge can happen in one of two ways.
The first, and most effective, is to request a DMV hearing before the suspension takes place.
The Department sends you a notice of suspension prior to suspending your license. You should then:
- request a hearing (within 10 days of receiving the notice), and
- obtain a DME and have your physician complete it after an examination.
This method allows you to use the evaluation as direct evidence of safe driving ability.
The second way is for you to request a DMV hearing after a suspension takes place.
Here, you attend a hearing and have to convince the hearing officer that:
- despite a medical condition,
- you can still safely drive a vehicle.
To help accomplish this goal, you can submit the following as evidence:
- medical records,
- statements from friends and family,
- test results (for example, vision or driving), and
- any relevant videos.
For more information, refer to these California DMV websites:
- Medical Conditions and Driving – Details about what medical conditions you can and cannot drive with.
- Medical Driver Evaluation (DS 326) – Form that your doctor needs to fill out to help the DMV to decide whether your medical condition impairs your driving.
- Lapse of Consciousness Disorders – Information on whether you can get a driver’s license with a lapse of consciousness disorder such as narcolepsy or epilepsy.
- Evaluation Guidelines – How the DMV determines whether your impairments would hinder your driving.
- Medical Examination Report – Commercial drivers are supposed to submit a medical examination report every two years.
- DMV Website – Driver Medical Evaluation DS 326.
- See same. See also DMV Website – Physical and Mental Evaluation Guidelines.
- DMV Website – Physical and Mental Evaluation Guidelines.
- See same.
- See same. See also Vehicle Code 12806.
- Vehicle Code 12814.