Oklahoma

Are applicants for a driver's license asked questions about diabetes?

Yes. Applicants for new driver's licenses are required to complete a medical questionnaire that asks them whether they have diabetes (along with a number of other medical conditions). Applicants also are asked if they have any other physical or mental conditions that could interfere with their ability to operate a motor vehicle. An applicant who answers yes to either of these questions must have a medical evaluation form completed by his or her physician. Okla. Admin. Code § 595:10-3-4(a) (2012) (examination required if application shows physical ailment affecting driving ability). Applicants for license renewals are not asked questions about their medical conditions. Oklahoma Dep't. of Pub. Safety, "Renewal or Replacement of Driver License or ID Card while Out-o Country or Out-of-State," Form DPS 300DLX 056, (Rev. 03/2010).

What other ways does the state have to find out about people who may not be able to drive safely because of a medical condition?

The state accepts written reports of potentially unsafe drivers from police officers, physicians, or a verified report from any other person authorized by the licensing agency, including judges, driver license examiners, relatives, and private citizens. Okla. Stat. tit. 47, § 6-119(C) (2013); Okla. Admin. Code § 595:10-5-2 (2012). The licensing agency does not accept anonymous reports and does not necessarily investigate reports before a driver is contacted and required to have a medical examination. Okla. Admin. Code § 595:10-5-13(a)-(c) (2012) (providing for the reporting of potentially unsafe drivers to the licensing agency for reexamination and a case by case analysis for any driving restrictions). Drivers also may be required to have medical evaluations if they have impairments which are observed by licensing agency personnel during the licensing process, when applying to renew a license that has been expired for more than three years, when exhibiting behavior that constitutes a hazard to public safety, or when applying for handicapped parking permits. Okla. Stat. tit. 47, § 6-119(A) (2013); Okla. Admin. Code §§ 595:10-3-4(a), -5-13(a)-(b) (2012).

What is the process for medical evaluations of drivers?

When the licensing agency has reason to believe that a driver may be medically unsafe to operate a motor vehicle, either because the driver gave positive answers to medical questions on the license application or because of a report from one of the other sources listed above, it will require the individual to have a medical evaluation. Okla. Stat. tit. 47, § 6-119(A) (2013); Okla. Admin. Code §§ 595:10-3-4(a), -5-5(a)(1), -5-9(b)(1)(A)-(B), -5-13(a)-(b) (2012). When this happens, a medical evaluation form is sent to the individual, which must be completed by his or her physician. The medical evaluation form has a section for diabetes, which asks the physician for the date of the onset of diabetes, the current status of control, and whether the individual is taking insulin or other medications for diabetes. The physician also is asked whether the individual experiences insulin reactions and, if so, the date of the last insulin reaction and whether it resulted in a loss of consciousness. Finally, the physician is asked to provide a medical judgment regarding whether the patient's condition is controlled and whether the patient is physically and mentally capable of operating a motor vehicle safely.  Medical evaluation forms are returned to the licensing agency for review and a licensing decision. Okla. Stat. tit. 47, § 6-119(A) (2013) (licensing agency may require medical evaluation); Okla. Admin. Code §§ 595:10-5-5(a)(1) (reportedly unsafe drivers with diabetes required to submit physician report), 595:10-5-9(b)(1)(A)-(B) (driver with epilepsy may be required to submit medical reports). Periodic follow-up medical evaluations may be required on the recommendation of the treating physician. Okla. Admin. Code §§ 595:10-5-5(a)(1) (follow-up requirements for diabetes), 595:10-5-9(b)(3) (2012) (follow-up requirements for epilepsy).

Are physicians required by law to report drivers who have medical conditions that could affect their ability to drive safely?

There is no statutory authority requiring physicians to report drivers with medical conditions that could affect their ability to drive safely to a central state agency. However, a physician treating an individual for any illness or injury that would impair his or her ability to operate a motor vehicle safely in any manner may voluntarily make a written report of the diagnosis to the licensing agency. Okla. Stat. tit. 47, § 6-207 (2013). The information contained in such reports may be used only in making licensing determinations and not in any other contexts, as it may be the subject of a physician-patient privilege or similar privilege or rule against disclosure. Okla. Stat. tit. 47, § 6-207 (2013).

Are physicians who report drivers with medical conditions immune from legal action by the patient?

Yes. Physicians are not civilly liability for medical reports when acting in good faith and without negligence or malicious intent. Okla. Stat. tit. 47, § 6-207 (2013). The statute does not mention criminal liability.

Who makes decisions about whether drivers are medically qualified?

Cases involving diabetes frequently are referred to the state's Medical Advisory Committee, which is a part of the licensing agency. Okla. Stat. tit. 47, § 6-118(A) (2013) (establishing the Medical Advisory Committee). Cases referred to the Medical Advisory Committee are decided on the recommendation of a single member of the Committee, who is a medical consultant employed by the licensing agency. Okla. Admin. Code § 595:10-5-15 (2012) (providing for a decisive medical evaluation to be performed by a physician specializing in an appropriate field of medicine when conflicting medical opinions exist as to an individual's fitness to operate a motor vehicle). While the Medical Advisory Committee may make recommendations as to licensing decisions, the licensing agency retains ultimate authority over the licensing of drivers. Okla. Admin. Code § 595:10-5-3 (2012); Okla. Stat. tit. 47, § 6-118(B)-(C) (2013). The Medical Advisory Committee recommends to the Commissioner of Public Safety standards for determining the physical, emotional, and mental capacity of individuals to hold driver's licenses; and additionally, the Commissioner is statutorily required to solicit input on medical standards for licensing from the American Diabetes Association, among other professional organizations. Okla. Stat. tit. 47, § 6-118(B) (2013).

What are the circumstances under which a driver may be required to undergo a medical evaluation?

A driver may be required to undergo a medical evaluation if he or she responds affirmatively to medical questions on the license application or if he or she indicates to the licensing agency in any other way that he or she may be afflicted with any physical or mental ailment that would impair safe driving. Okla. Admin. Code § 595:10-3-4(a) (2012). A driver may be required to undergo a medical evaluation if he or she suffers from diabetes or a neurological disorder characterized by episodes of loss of consciousness. Okla. Admin. Code §§ 595:10-5-5(a)(1) (diabetes), 595:10-5-9(b)(1)(A)-(B) (2012) (neurological disorders). Drivers may be required to undergo medical evaluations if they are reported to the licensing agency as potentially unsafe drivers and there is reason to believe that their driving constitutes a hazard to public safety. Okla. Admin. Code § 595:10-5-13(a)-(b) (2012). Drivers also may be required to have medical evaluations if they have impairments which are observed by licensing agency personnel during the licensing process, when applying to renew a license that has been expired for more than three years, when exhibiting behavior that constitutes a hazard to public safety, or when applying for handicapped parking permits. Okla. Stat. tit. 47, § 6-119(A) (2013); Okla. Admin. Code §§ 595:10-3-4(a), 595:10-5-13(a)-(b) (2012). Finally, a driver may be required to undergo a medical evaluation when there is conflicting medical evidence as to his or her fitness to operate a motor vehicle. Okla. Admin. Code § 595:10-5-15 (2012).

Has the state adopted specific policies about whether people with diabetes are allowed to drive?

Yes. The Commissioner of Public Safety sets medical standards for the licensing of noncommercial drivers and is statutorily required to solicit input on those medical standards from the American Diabetes Association, among other professional organizations. Okla. Stat. tit. 47, § 6-118(B) (2013). When the licensing agency has good cause to believe that an individual may be afflicted with any physical or mental ailment or condition, including diabetes, which may cause loss of control or partial control, then it may require him or her to undergo a physical or psychological examination as a condition of licensure. Okla. Stat. tit. 47, § 6-119(A) (2013). Unless the licensing agency receives a report from a police officer or physician indicating that an individual is a hazard to the public safety or incapable of properly controlling a motor vehicle, then an individual with diabetes will not be required to submit to any additional requirements beyond those for a person not affected by diabetes before receiving a license or a renewal of a license to operate a motor vehicle. Okla. Stat. tit. 47, § 6-119(A)-(B) (2013). However, if the licensing agency has received such a report, an individual will be required to submit proof from his or her physician that his or her diabetes is under reasonable control without either hypoglycemic or hyperglycemic reactions severe enough to impair driving ability, and subsequent periodic medical reports may be required. Okla. Admin. Code § 595:10-5-5(a)(1), (b) (2012). Individuals with insulin-dependent diabetes are required to have driving restriction code number six (6), which states, "Food, fruit, or candy within reach of driver," printed on their licenses. Okla. Admin. Code § 595:10-5-5(a)(2) (2012).

What is the state's policy about episodes of altered consciousness or loss of consciousness that may be due to diabetes?

The licensing agency may deny or cancel the license of any individual that it learns is afflicted with a physical disease with a history of seizures, or mental disease, or momentary lapses of consciousness, or any other ailment that may result in temporary loss of control or partial control of a motor vehicle. Okla. Stat. tit. 47, § 6-207 (2013). Epilepsy is defined as "a neurological disorder characterized by episodes of sudden altered consciousness and/or temporary loss of body motor control," and an "episode" is defined as"any incident or segment of time (such as an attack, fit, blackout, convulsion, or seizure) involving altered consciousness and/or loss of body control." Okla. Admin. Code § 595:10-5-9(a)(2)-(3) (2012). An individual with epilepsy will be issued a driver's license if he or she (1) has been episode-free for at least six months and (2) submits to the licensing agency a favorable recommendation for driving from his or her treating physician. Okla. Admin. Code § 595:10-5-9(b)(1)(A) (2012). Future periodic medical evaluations will be required, and if an individual experiences another episode of loss of consciousness, he or she must voluntarily surrender his or her license to the licensing agency until such time that the agency determines that he or she once again is medically qualified to drive. Okla. Admin. Code § 595:10-5-9(b)(4) (2012).

Does the state allow for waivers of this policy, e.g., a waiver for a one-time episode of severe hypoglycemia that has mitigating factors (e.g., recent change in medication, illness, etc.) or that has been addressed with a physician?

Yes, for epilepsy and other neurological conditions. There are several scenarios in which an individual may experience an episode of loss of consciousness and not face revocation or denial of his or her driver's license. An individual's license will not be revoked or denied if a neurological disease (1) the episode was due to a deliberate change in anti-convulsant medication ordered by a physician; (2) a medical examination indicates that episode control has again been established with reasonable certainty; and (3) the treating physician has given a favorable recommendation for driving. Okla. Admin. Code § 595:10-5-9(b)(1)(B)(i)(I)-(III) (2012). An individual's license will not be revoked or denied if (1) his or her physician indicates the episode was an isolated occurrence; (2) the medical examination indicates that another episode is unlikely to occur with reasonable medical certainty; and (3) the treating physician has given a favorable recommendation for driving. Okla. Admin. Code § 595:10-5-9(b)(1)(B)(ii)(I)-(III) (2012). Finally, an individual's license will not be revoked or denied if the episode is the result of a seizure disorder that is diagnosed as strictly nocturnal in nature or occurring only while asleep, unless the treating physician recommends otherwise. Okla. Admin. Code § 595:10-5-9(b)(1)(B)(iii) (2012).

What is the process for appealing a decision of the state regarding a driver's license?

Unless such revocation or denial is mandatory, an individual whose license has been cancelled or denied due to medical reasons may appeal the decision of the licensing agency to the district court. Okla. Stat. tit. 47, §§ 6-103(A)-(B), -118(D), -207 (2013); Okla. Admin. Code §§ 595:10-5-3, -18 (2010); Okla. Stat. tit. 47, § 6-211 (2013) (providing the procedure whereby an individual may appeal an adverse licensing decision to the district court). An aggrieved individual must file a petition for appeal within 30 days of receiving notice of an adverse licensing decision, and the district court must schedule a hearing not fewer than 15 days before and not more than 30 days after receiving such petition. Okla. Stat. tit. 47, § 6-211(E) (2013). After hearing evidence and testimony, the district court may affirm, modify, or vacate the decision of the licensing agency. Okla. Stat. tit. 47, § 6-211(E) (2013); Okla. Stat. tit. 47, § 6-118(D) (2013) (providing that the findings and recommendations of the Medical Advisory Committee are admissible as evidence in any proceeding before the district court). In order to stay or supersede any order of the licensing agency, an individual must execute and file with the clerk of the court a $250.00 cash bond. Okla. Stat. tit. 47, § 6-211(K) (2013). Either the petitioner or the licensing agency may appeal the judgment of the district court to the Supreme Court of the State of Oklahoma. Okla. Stat. tit. 47, § 6-211(M) (2013). For more information, see Oklahoma Department of Public Safety, "Oklahoma Court Clerks," (Accessed Aug. 2013).

May an individual whose license is suspended or denied because of diabetes receive a probationary or restricted license?

Yes. Regarding individuals subject to episodes of loss of consciousness, the licensing agency may restrict their driving privileges based upon the recommendations of physicians performing medical examinations or upon the recommendations of the Medical Advisory Committee, provided that the minimum standards for licensure are met. Okla. Admin. Code § 595:10-5-9(b)(1)(C) (2012). Also, the licensing agency may, whenever good cause appears, impose restrictions on an individual's license "appropriate to assure the safe operation of a motor vehicle by the licensee." Okla. Stat. tit. 47, § 6-118 (A) (2013).

Is an identification card available for non-drivers?

Yes, with proper identification. Okla. Stat. tit. 47, § 6-106(A)(3) (2013); Okla. Admin. Code § 595:10-1-25(a) (2012); Okla. Stat. tit. 47, § 6-111(A)(1) (2013) (authorizing the licensing agency to issue identification cards). A $10.00 fee is required to obtain an identification card, except if an applicant is 65 years of age or older, in which case no fee is required. Okla. Stat. tit. 47, § 6-105.3(B) (2013); Okla. Admin. Code § 595:10-1-25(b)-(c) (2012). An identification card is valid for a period of four years, except if the holder is 65 years of age or older, in which case it is valid indefinitely. Okla. Stat. tit. 47, § 6-105.3(A) (2013). If an applicant for an identification card is under 18 years of age, his or her application must be signed by a parent or legal guardian. Okla. Stat. tit. 47, § 6-105.3(A) (2013). For more information, see Oklahoma Department of Public Safety, "Oklahoma Identification Card," (Accessed Aug. 2013).

Resources

Driver licensing in Oklahoma is administered by the state Department of Public Safety.

  • Last Reviewed: August 15, 2013
  • Last Edited: February 5, 2014