The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) may choose to suspend your license if they believe that you are not medically fit to operate a vehicle. If you have a certain condition or disorder, the DMV may suspend or revoke your license, subject to ongoing monitoring by the DMV.
The action taken by the DMV will depend on how your condition is categorized. The DMV is authorized to take several actions and possibly put your license on probation, suspension, or revocation.
Medical Conditions that Can Result in a Suspended Driver’s License in California
Under California Vehicle Code (VC) §12806, the DMV may suspend a license for a medical condition. However, the medical condition must be one that impacts a person’s ability to drive safely. Common conditions that can result in a license suspension include:
- Addiction to drugs or alcohol
- Any disorder that could cause you to lose consciousness
- Any disorder that could result in a state of confusion
Unfortunately, almost any condition can potentially impair your ability to operate your vehicle safely in one way or another. Common medical conditions that lead to the DMV suspending or revoking a license include:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Other forms of dementia
- Severe vision problems
- Sleep disorders
While these represent some of the more common cases, any condition that has an effect on driving ability can result in a loss of driving privileges. However, it is important to note that simply having one of these conditions is not enough to justify the suspension or revocation of your license. The condition must have an actual effect on your ability to drive safely.
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How Physical or Mental Conditions Are Reported to the DMV
Anyone can notify the DMV about a condition that may affect a driver’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. While some people might report an ailment out of personal concern, there are certain conditions that doctors are required by law to report. When a condition could result in a patient losing consciousness, doctors must file a confidential morbidity report.
Common sources of information about a driver’s condition include:
- Doctors and other healthcare workers
- Law enforcement officers
Drivers may even be required to report the condition themselves when submitting a driver’s license application or during a visit to the DMV.
What Happens After the DMV Learns About Your Medical Condition
When the DMV receives a report about a condition that may impair a driver’s ability to drive safely, they will perform an initial risk assessment. After making the initial assessment, there are several actions that could be taken, including:
- Requesting a driver medical evaluation (DME)
- Scheduling the driver for a physical and mental (P&M) reexamination hearing
- Placing the driver on medical probation
- Making the driver complete a supplemental driving performance evaluation
- Restricting where and when a driver is allowed to operate a vehicle
- Requiring the driver to use equipment that will improve their safety
- Immediate suspension or revocation of the driver’s license
- Taking no action
Obviously, the decision of the DMV will come down to their evaluation of your condition.
They will only take no action if they determine that your condition is not a threat. Many of these actions are only taken after the conclusion of a DME or reexamination. The immediate suspension or revocation of your license is only possible if the driver is deemed to be an immediate safety threat.
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What Is a Driver Medical Evaluation (DME)?
The first step after the DMV makes an initial assessment is often to ask the driver to submit a DME form.
A driver must include a comprehensive health history in this form. The driver has 26 days to complete and return their DME. Purposely providing false information in the DME can result in criminal charges against the driver for violating California law regarding perjury.
The driver’s doctor must also provide information for a DME. This information includes a medical diagnosis and treatment plan for any condition that may impair a patient’s driving ability.
After reviewing the DME, the DMV will determine whether or not the driver poses a safety risk and proceed from there. Failure to complete and submit a requested DME can result in the suspension of your license.
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Appealing the Decision of the DMV
Receiving an unfavorable decision from the DMV is not the end of the line. There are two options for challenging the decision made by the DMV regarding your reexamination hearing.
The DMV uses P&M hearings as one of the main sources for evaluating a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely despite a medical condition.
Your first step to take if you disagree with the decision of the DMV is to request a “departmental review.” You have 15 days from the date you received notice of the DMV’s original decision to request this review.
Generally, simply filing the request will put a halt to the suspension or revocation of your license until the review has been completed.
The DMV will look over all of the evidence and arguments presented in your P&M hearing to determine if the decision of the hearing officer was correct.
Fighting It in Court
A second option for challenging the DMV’s decision to suspend or revoke your license is to take your case to the California Superior Court. The challenge you will file with the court is a Petition for Alternative Writ of Mandate.
You can either make this challenge after a departmental review ruling confirms the original decision of the hearing officer or you can skip the departmental review altogether.
If taking your case to court without first requesting a departmental review, you will have 35 days to file a challenge following receiving notice of the P&M hearing decision.
If you request a departmental review and the original decision is upheld, you will have 95 days from the date you receive notice of this decision to file your challenge with the court.
If Your Driver’s License Has Been Suspended in California, the Simmrin Law Group Can Help
Losing your driving privileges can make many aspects of your life quite difficult. If you are in danger of losing your license over a medical condition, hiring a legal professional can certainly help. At the Simmrin Law Group, we have a history of protecting our clients’ rights to drive.
Contact us today by giving us a call or filling out our online contact form. You can schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a member of our team. We’ll review your case and advise you of all your legal options.