New York

New York

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

The applicant must report if they have ever received treatment or taken medication for a "condition which causes unconsciousness or unawareness." N.Y. Dep't. of Motor Vehicles, "Application for Driver License or Non-Driver ID Card," Form MV-44, (Rev. 5/2013). Diabetes is not specifically listed but examples include "convulsive disorder, epilepsy, fainting or dizzy spells." Renewal applicants are presented with the same list of conditions and asked if they have any that have worsened since the issuance of their last licenses. If an applicant answers yes to this question, he or she must have his or her physician complete Form MV-44, the Physician's Statement for Medical Review Unit. N.Y. Dep't. of Motor Vehicles, "Application for Driver License or Non-Driver ID Card," Form MV-44, (Rev. 5/2013); N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 15, § 9.4(a) (2013) (procedures for evaluation and license suspension upon receipt of application indicating lack of fitness to drive).

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 reports of potentially unsafe drivers from police officers, physicians, and other citizens. N.Y. Dep't. of Motor Vehicles, "Physician's Request for Driver Review," Form DS-6 (Rev. 12/2012); N.Y. Dep't. of Motor Vehicles, "Request for Driver Review," Form DS-7 (Rev. 07/2013); N.Y. Dep't. of Motor Vehicles, "Police Agency Request for Driver Review," Form DS-5. The licensing agency does not accept anonymous reports and does not investigate reports before a driver is contacted for medical review. Drivers also may be required to have medical evaluations if they are involved in a given number of at-fault crashes within a given time period, if they are involved in crashes resulting in a fatality, or if they have impairments which are observed by licensing agency personnel during the licensing process. N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law § 506(1)-(2) (2013) (driver examination authorized if three accidents within a given period of time); N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 15, § 9.4(a) (2013) (specifying multiple instances for medical review after an episode of loss of consciousness).

What is the process for medical evaluations of drivers?

When the licensing agency has received information that an individual may suffer from a condition that can cause loss of consciousness, he or she is required to undergo a medical evaluation completed by his or her physician. The examination must have been conducted within the last 120 days. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 15, § 9.4(a), (d) (2013). The Physician's Statement for Medical Review Unit (MV-80U.1) form may be completed by an individual's primary care physician although in such a case the licensing agency later may ask for additional information from a specialist. Note that this form is different from the Physician's Statement (MV-80). This is a form a physician completes when an applicant mentions a medical condition on his or her application, or is reported as having such a medical condition. N.Y. Dep't. of Motor Vehicles, "Physician's Statement," Form MV-80U (Rev. 09/2011).

On the more detailed MV-80U.1 form, the physician is asked to identify the individual's condition and provide the dates of any episodes of loss of consciousness. N.Y. Dep't. of Motor Vehicles, "Physician's Statement for Medical Review Unit," Form MV-80U.1 (Rev. 09/2010). Diabetes is listed as one applicable condition. The physician also is asked to list any medications being taken and to provide the date and a description of the most recent episode of loss of consciousness. In addition, the physician is asked to describe the frequency of any symptoms of the condition, provide relevant test results, and state whether any of the episodes have involved a motor vehicle accident. The physician finally is asked to give an opinion as to whether the condition would interfere with the individual's safe operation of a motor vehicle. If so, the physician may recommend an on-the-road driving evaluation. These MV-80U.1 forms are returned to the licensing agency for review and a licensing decision. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 15, § 9.4(a) (2013). Periodic follow-up medical evaluations may be required on the recommendation of the licensing agency. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 15, § 9.5 (2013).

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.

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

There is no statutory authority providing immunity from civil or criminal liability for physicians reporting medical conditions. However, members of the Medical Advisory Board are not liable for their actions or reports. N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law § 545 (2013).

Who makes decisions about whether drivers are medically qualified?

If an episode of loss of consciousness has not occurred within the last 12 months, then the licensing decision can be made by non-medical licensing agency personnel. If an episode has occurred within that time period, the case is referred to medical consultants who are employed by the licensing agency for a decision. Generally, however, authority over licensing decisions resides with the licensing agency. N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law § 510(1) (2013). The Medical Advisory Board is authorized to issue recommendations as to vision and medical standards for safe driving, as well as to other aspects of medical fitness, driver licensing, driver health, and safety, as requested by the licensing agency. It does not ordinarily perform individual medical reviews. N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law § 544 (2013) (describing function of advisory board).

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 provides affirmative answers to medical questions on the licensing application. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 15, § 9.4(a) (2013). A driver also may be required to undergo a medical evaluation if he or she is reported to the licensing agency as a potentially unsafe driver. Drivers also may be required to have medical evaluations if they are involved in three or more at-fault crashes within eighteen months, if they are involved in crashes resulting in a fatality, or if they have impairments which are observed by licensing agency personnel during the licensing process. N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law § 506(1)-(2) (2013) (grounds for examination); N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 15, § 9.4(a) (2013) (medical evaluations or suspension for episode of loss of consciousness).

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

No. New York has adopted no specific medical guidelines related to diabetes, except for its guidelines related to episodes of loss of consciousness.

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

Loss of consciousness is defined as "the condition of not being aware of one's surroundings or of one's existence and the inability to receive, interpret or react to sensory impressions as the result of epilepsy, syncope, cataplexy, narcolepsy and other disorders affecting consciousness or control." N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 15, § 9.2(a) (2013). Diabetes is not mentioned specifically, but may be included in the general definition for "other disorders." The policy regarding episodes of loss of consciousness applies to licensing applications and drivers subject to medical evaluations, if they have ever suffered such episodes since their last licensing review. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 15, § 9.1 (2013). An individual is considered to be fit for licensing if he or she has not experienced an episode of loss of consciousness within the preceding 12 months and submits a physician's statement confirming that fact. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 15, § 9.3(a)-(c) (2013). A physician's statement must be submitted within 120 days of a medical examination in order to be valid. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 15, § 9.4(d) (2013). Unless the licensing agency deems the operation of a motor vehicle by an individual to be an immediate hazard, an individual's license will not be suspended or revoked until after a departmental hearing. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 15, § 9.4(a) (2013).

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. Even if an individual has experienced an episode of loss of consciousness within the preceding 12 months, he or she may be licensed if (1) the episode was due solely to a directed change in medication; or (2) the individual's physician is aware of all such episodes and nevertheless believes that patient is safe to drive. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 15, § 9.3(b)-(c) (2013). A supporting physician's statement must be submitted for each of these exceptions within 120 days of a medical examination in order to be valid. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 15, § 9.4(d) (2013). An individual will be licensed only if neither the licensing agency nor the Medical Advisory Board finds reason to disagree with the physician's statement. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 15, § 9.3(b)-(c) (2013). If an individual has experienced an episode of loss of consciousness, is taking medication to control the condition, and his or her physician recommends periodic follow-up evaluation, then the licensing agency may require periodic follow-up evaluations as a condition of licensure. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 15, § 9.5 (2013).

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

Most drivers must have a hearing before they lose their license for medical fitness reasons. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 15, § 9.4(a) (2013). An individual must request such a hearing within 30 days of being notified of a pending denial or suspension. If no action is taken, the hearing is forfeited and the denial or suspension is imposed. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 15, § 9.4(a) (2013). However, if the licensing agency considers the operation of a motor vehicle by an individual to be an immediate hazard, an individual's license may be denied or suspended immediately, and the aggrieved individual then must request a hearing within 30 days or forfeit that right. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 15, § 9.4(b) (2013). Decisions of the licensing agency are appealable directly to the New York Supreme Court without review by the Appeals Board. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 15, § 9.6(b) (2013); N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law § 263 (2013) (providing for review by the New York Supreme Court).

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

Yes. An individual whose license has been suspended or revoked because of a physical or mental disability, N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law § 510(3)(b) (2013), may be issued a restricted license as long as he or she can demonstrate a need for a restricted license and is not ineligible to receive one. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 15, § 135.2 (2013). N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 15, § 135.7(a)-(b) (2013) (describing persons ineligible to receive restricted licenses); N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law § 530 (Consol. 2013) (providing for the issuance of restricted licenses); N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 15, § 135.9 (2013) (same).

Is an identification card available for non-drivers?

Yes, with proper identification. An individual must submit his or her social security number or provide proof that he or she is eligible for a social security number before the licensing agency will issue a non-driver identification card. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 15, § 3.9(a) (2013). An individual cannot hold both non-driver identification card and a driver's license concurrently. Non-driver identification cards also are available to individuals' whose licenses have been suspended or revoked. An individual of any age may apply for a non-driver identification card, provided that he or she does not hold a driver's license. For more information, see N.Y. Department of Motor Vehicles, "Non-Driver Photo ID Card."

Resources

Driver licensing in New York is administered by the state Department of Motor Vehicles.