State Driving Laws Database

Driver Information By State

Every state regulates driver's license eligibility of persons with certain medical conditions. The most common requirement for people with epilepsy is that they be seizure free for a specific period of time and submit a physician's evaluation of their ability to drive safely. Another common requirement is the periodic submission of medical reports, in some states for a specified period of time and in others for as long as the person remains licensed.

Select the state you want to find information about, or if you are moving and would like to compare two states' driving laws side by side? Choose the two states below to compare.

LawCalifornia
DMV Appeal of License DenialYes
Doctors to Report EpilepsyYes
Periodic Medical Updates Required After Licensing At discretion of Department of Motor Vehicles
Seizure-Free Period3 or 6 months, with exceptions

California Driver Licensing Laws

California's Vehicle Code states: “The department may refuse to issue to, or renew a driver's license of, any person who: . . . has a disorder characterized by lapses of consciousness or who has experienced, within the last three years, either a lapse of consciousness or an episode of marked confusion caused by any condition which may bring about recurrent lapses . . . unless the department has medical information which indicates the person may safely operate a motor vehicle. In making its determination, the department may rely on any relevant information available to the department.” [CAL. VEH. CODE § 12806(c) (2010)]. 

The state Department of Motor Vehicles may consider the following elements when evaluating a driver with a seizure disorder: 1) the effect of the disorder on the physical and mental abilities which are necessary to safely operate a vehicle; 2) the individual’s testimony regarding his disorder and ability to drive; 3) testimony of other individuals of the same; 4) whether the seizure is under control with or without medication; 5) the individual’s compliance with a prescribed medical regimen; 6) other medical conditions which may affect the disorder; 7) the individual’s driving record; 8) other relevant factors which may affect the individual’s ability to safely drive; and 9) a current medical evaluation conducted by a physician [CAL. CODE REGS. tit. 13, §110.01 (2011)].

If the department determines that an individual has a disorder characterized by lapses of consciousness or episodes of marked confusion . . . but also determines upon evaluation of competent medical evidence and all relevant factors that the individual is able to drive safely and maintain reasonable control of a motor vehicle, the department may either (a) take no action against the individual's driving privilege, or (b) place the individual on medical probation to monitor the individual's condition to ensure that the individual continues to be capable of driving safely [CAL. CODE REGS. tit. 13, §110.02 (2011)].

A medical probation allows the department to monitor the driver's medical condition on an ongoing basis and allows drivers with controlled epilepsy to continue driving. A medical probation is only to be used when control of a lapse of consciousness disorder has been achieved for at least three months. Under one type of probation, for drivers who have achieved three to five months of control, the individual may be permitted to drive based on the following factors: seizure type, seizure manifestations; seizure, medical and lifestyle history; and the seizure-free period prior to the last episode.

Another type of probation applies to drivers who have achieved six or more months of control, “but due to contributing factors there is a slight possibility of another seizure.” The driver is required to report, in writing, on a regular basis to the department on the status of his/her disorder. The decision to place a driver on this type of medical probation is based on the same factors as above. No probation is needed for drivers who have achieved six or more months of control and there are no coexisting medication conditions that would aggravate the driver's seizures or impair the driver's ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. See http:// dmv.ca.gov/dl/driversafety/lapes.htm.

Commercial Driving

California has adopted the federal Department of Transportation's medical standards for licensing individuals to drive commercial vehicles and standards established by the federal Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-570) [CAL. VEH. CODE §15250 (2010)]. The licensee must have a medical certificate approved by the department, the federal Department of Transportation, or the Federal Aviation Administration, that has been issued within two years of the date of the operation of that vehicle and a copy of the medical examination report must be on file with the department [CAL. VEH. CODE § 12804.9(a)(2)(2010)].

California Identification Card

Any person may obtain an identification card from the Department of Motor Vehicles [CAL. VEH. CODE §13000 (2010)]. A person at least 62 years of age may obtain a senior citizen identification card. An individual who requests that his or her driver's license be cancelled because of a physical or mental condition or whose driver license is revoked due to a medical condition may receive an identification card free of charge [CAL. VEH. CODE § 13002(c) (2010)].

California Reporting

Every physician and surgeon must immediately report to the local health officer individuals 14 years of age and older whom they have diagnosed as having "a disorder characterized by lapses of consciousness." [CAL. HEALTH & SAFETY CODE §103900(a) (2010)]. A physician or surgeon may report a patient's condition even if it may not be required under the state department's definition of disorders characterized by lapses of consciousness if the report is made because the physician reasonably and in good faith believes the reporting of a patient will serve the public interest. [CAL. HEALTH & SAFETY CODE §103900(a) (2010)]. A physician and surgeon who reports a patient diagnosed as a case of a disorder characterized by lapses of consciousness pursuant to this section shall not be civilly or criminally liable to any patient for making any report required or authorized by this section. [CAL. HEALTH & SAFETY CODE §103900(f) (2010)].

© 2014 Epilepsy Foundation. All rights reserved. This summary was developed for informational purposes by the Epilepsy Foundation and reflects a review of data available as of August 2014. Information is subject to change. This summary is not a substitute for legal advice. For further information, please consult your state Department of Motor Vehicles.

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The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is to lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures, and save lives.

 
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