Although we often take it for granted, driving a car is a complicated task that requires skill, physical abilities, and tolerance.
Medical conditions can affect your ability to drive safely. Clients who suffer from uncontrolled seizures, dementia, the effects from a stroke, or other physically disabling conditions, can lose their driving privileges. If you suffer from one of these, or another similar medical condition, the DMV may attempt to revoke your driver’s license. Your ability to drive may come under scrutiny by the DMV’s Medical Advisory Board.
What is the Medical Review Hearing?
A medical review hearing is a hearing to determine if you have any medical issues that make it unsafe for you to operate a motor vehicle. Medical review hearings operate in a similar way to any other legal issue that must be resolved. There first is an investigation conducted that includes a letter requesting patient records, statements of treatment, specific questions about different treatment, and more.
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The Department of Public Health can take this investigation and submit it as an alleged violation at which time the defending doctor can request that the Department dismiss the allegations because they have no merit. If the Department continues to proceed, the doctor will be given the chance to meet with the Department at an informal hearing and contest the charges.
What to Expect From the Medical Review
The initial informal meeting is a critical step in fighting against allegations because it is often the last chance to keep the impending issue out of the public eye. Because this stage is so important, it is a good idea to seek counsel that has experience with this Department and make sure that you have representation at this hearing. Hired attorneys may attend informal hearings, speak on a doctor’s behalf, and submit evidence and documents on behalf of the doctor.
Having an attorney is also critical to this stage because an attorney will know how to obtain the complaint, evaluate it, and use it to create a plan for defending against the charges. During this informal meeting, the doctor and his or her counsel can try to establish an agreement with the Department that does not involve a public hearing.
If the informal meeting is unsuccessful and a resolution cannot be reached, there will be a set formal hearing. At the hearing, any counsel will get the chance to present witnesses, expert testimony, statements from patients, and evidence in the form of documents. It is imperative that every possible position that a defending doctor has is made clear to the Medical Examining Board at this hearing and therefore, critical to have an attorney.
Medical Review of Your License
There are a couple of situations where a medical review could come up. For instance, doctors are responsible to notify the DMV when one of their patients no longer meets minimum standards for the safe operation of a motor vehicle because of a medical condition. Examples include people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, severe dementia, or random seizures. In these cases, the doctors will notify the DMV.
Another instance is when someone with a medical condition causes a motor vehicle accident, or if they are otherwise stopped by the police for erratic driving (or maybe even suspected DUI). Sometimes the police stop a car and encounter a confused driver. The police officer is obligated to notify the DMV if he or she believes that the driver’s medical condition played a part in the unsafe driving.
In these situations, the DMV will take action to revoke the driver’s license. First, the DMV usually requires the driver to complete some specific medical forms. These forms include reports from the individual’s treating doctors. The doctor’s report will include an evaluation of the client’s ability to drive and their medical history. This information will then be reviewed by the DMV’s Medical Advisory Board.
The Medical Advisory Board is responsible for providing recommendations to the DMV about drivers with medical concerns. The Medical Advisory Board is made up of fifteen medical professional board members. Medical professional means a licensed physician, physician’s assistant, advanced practice nurse, ophthalmologist, or optometrist. The members of the Medical Advisory Board serve voluntarily and are not paid. The Medical Advisory Board determines whether to suspend or revoke a driver’s license based on the facts of the case and the driver’s medical history.
Revoking and Reinstating Licenses
In our experience, the DMV treats each revocation after a medical review on a case-by-case basis. Some of our clients have been able to submit the necessary medical reports, and the DMV has restored their driver’s licenses without the need for further monitoring. Other clients have been placed under a six-month review pending approval by the Medical Advisory Board. Still other clients have required full evidentiary hearings to challenge the DMV’s revocation of their driver’s license. Your situation will likely depend upon the specific facts of your case, and your medical history. If my firm represents you, our goal is to challenge any negative findings and to restore your driver’s license.
In cases where clients experienced seizures or sudden blackouts, the key to restoring their driving privileges was demonstrating a significant period of time (six months or more) without a similar seizure or blackout episode.
If you have received a notice that the DMV is suspending or revoking your license because of a medical condition, you should hire legal counsel to represent you right away. Driving is an important aspect of our lives. If you lose your driver’s license, you face the loss of your independence. Our experienced attorneys know the procedures involved, and we can help you navigate your way through the DMV process. We can provide you with the advice you need to address your case and your medical review. Please call to discuss your situation. I am here to help with your medical review!