Posted in on June 7, 2018

The Dangers of Seizures While Driving 

We all know the dangers of distracted driving—texting, talking, grooming, and eating all take our hands off the wheel and our focus off the road. These behaviors can lead to fines and points off of your license. But are individuals who are affected by seizures while driving subject to the same consequences as these willful behaviors?

Here are the most common questions the Epilepsy Foundation receives from drivers who experience seizures.

Can you legally drive if you suffer seizures?

Colorado has fairly relaxed laws about seizure patients getting behind the wheel. The state does not want your condition to limit your independence to work or your full potential for a social, active lifestyle.

State law endorses the “honor system” to self-report medical conditions to the DMV. Your safety is up to you, but it’s important to keep in mind that your life is not the only one at stake. It is a moral imperative that you truthfully disclose your disability on your application for a driving license. If you feel that you can predict and/or control your condition, you can legally dispute denial of a license.

Certain driving restrictions may apply to you as a Colorado resident if you have a disqualifying condition:

  • You must receive a waiver to drive commercial vehicles.
  • If you have epilepsy, you are only permitted to drive taxis, buses, and school buses with a medical professional’s certification that your condition is controlled.

How do seizures impact your driving?

Seizures pose a driving danger because of your loss of control, but they do not impact revocation of your license unless you are proven to be unfit for operating a vehicle. You may be a risk if you suffer:

  • Violent shaking
  • Blacking out
  • Incapacitated mobility

The cause of your seizure is important to understand if you legally dispute your license suspension or cancellation. Causes can include severe head injury, high fever, or brain infection. They can also occur more commonly because of disorders. 

Because seizures affect your body’s senses and awareness, take prescribed medication on time every day. Missing any tablets puts you at high risk, so if you are behind, have your meds called in and delivered to you personally either by the pharmacy or a friend.

Can my doctor legally inform the DMV of my seizure condition?

When a driver renews or applies for a license, or challenges a cancellation, the DMV can request a medical opinion to influence/justify their decision. To do so, the DMV must have reason to believe that your vision is impaired by your seizures or you suffer lapses of consciousness.

If your medical professional reports your disability in good faith, because they believe your driving ability is impaired, you can’t pursue civil or criminal action.

In Colorado, a medical professional may only report your specific condition of their own volition if you disobeyed their medical advice.

Will your license be taken away if your seizures cause an auto accident?

If your seizures cause a car crash, you will be asked to file the following information to determine 1) rightful application of the law and 2) whether your condition impacts your driving on a regular basis:

  • Cause of seizure
  • Type of seizure
  • State where your license was issued
  • Last seizure-free period

If your consciousness was affected while driving, even by one seizure, you may be found incompetent to drive. You must surrender your license as ordered or appeal the decision within 30 days. 

Colorado law does not require a seizure-free period or medical evaluations in the event that your condition impacts your driving. However, the DMV may request updates on your condition after an accident, including inquiries into whether you have stopped taking your medication.

What happens if you drive after your license is taken away?

Insurance won’t cover accidents caused by seizures if you drive without a license. You will also face full prosecution of the law.

Even if you have a license, if your seizures caused an accident that went unreported or unnoticed, give up your license according to your state’s laws. Protect yourself and others.

Who can request a reexamination if your license is approved?

Colorado law does allow the following individuals to request re-examination:

  • Law enforcement
  • Court officials
  • Medical personnel
  • Immediate family

You will have to take a new eye exam, written test, and driving test in the event that your physical or mental state is questioned.

What are my options if my driving license is taken away?

You can try new treatments to develop better control of your seizures. Provide documentation to the DMV that your new medication is preventative.

There are also a variety of public transport options in Colorado, such as buses, taxis, ride-sharing services, and the light rail. Ask your doctor if biking is a safe option.

If you can’t use public transport safely on your own, the Americans with Disabilities Act may have secured your eligibility for paratransit. Ask your local transit authority if you qualify.

You can also consider walking, asking friends and family for rides, or carpooling with coworkers to get around after you lose your license.

If you feel you’ve been unfairly treated, know your rights. Contact Bachus & Schanker, LLC to get the compensation you deserve. 

Sources:

https://one.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/olddrive/seizures/index.html 

https://www.epilepsy.com/driving-laws/2008341 

https://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/investigations/colorado-drivers-license-approval-process-relies-heavily-on-the-honor-system-for-medical-conditions 

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Super Lawyers - Kyle Bachus
Super Lawyers - Darin Schanker
Million Dollar Advocates Forum
The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyer
5280 Top Lawyers of Denver
Martindale-Hubbell Peer Rated for Highest Level of Professional Excellence