Who reports seizures to the DMV?
The most common way the California Department of Motor Vehicles can learn about a driver’s epilepsy is from a report by the driver’s physician, particularly neurologists. Under California driving law, doctors must report to the DMV any medical condition that can lead to a “lapse of consciousness” or interfere with someone’s ability to drive a motor vehicle safely. Seizures are a common example of a loss of consciousness.
Other people who may report an epileptic driver to the DMV include:
- Other medical professionals and physical and mental health care providers,
- Law enforcement officers,
- Judges, and
- Concerned family members, friends, or other private citizens (who may do so by filling out a “DMV request for a driver reexamination” form and submitting it to the DMV).
The California driver him- or herself may also put the DMV on notice — for instance, in response to questions about the driver’s condition on a driver’s license application.
How can I keep my license if have epilepsy?
A licensed driver who has been reported to the DMV for epilepsy has the right to a DMV reexamination. Another term for this is a lapse of consciousness hearing. The driver will be able to present evidence and medical information to the hearing officer show the medical reasons that he or she can still drive safely despite being prone to seizures.
Such evidence may include:
- A clean, safe driving record going back several years,
- The driver’s own testimony regarding what he/she is doing to control the condition and have seizure-free periods while driving,
- Medical records showing medical examinations and the steps the driver is taking to control his/her condition, and
- Testimony from family, friends, and doctors who treat the driver to show that he/she is able to drive safely.
Note that the DMV will not always require an administrative hearing following lapses of consciousness. In some cases, it may only require a “DMV driver medical evaluation” (“DME”) and medical history from the driver’s doctor.
What happens if the DMV decides I cannot drive safely?
The DMV has many options for restricting epileptic drivers. Not all of them involve revoking or suspending the person’s driving privileges.
If the DMV determines that a driver’s seizure disorder affects his or her ability to drive safely, the DMV may:
- Place the driver on “medical probation,” which allows the driver to keep his/her license subject to certain conditions (such as submitting ongoing medical reports or reexaminations);
- Issue the driver a “limited term license” for one or two years; or
- Issue the driver a restricted license that contains restrictions on where/when the driver may drive;
- Suspend the driver’s license for a certain period of time; or
- Revoke the driver’s license (if it believes the condition is permanent and there is no safe way for the driver to drive).
For more information on how to fight a DMV revocation or suspension based on epilepsy, please see our article on “Driver’s License Suspensions Due to Physical or Mental Conditions.”
Or call us to discuss your case and get additional information about California dmv seizure law.