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Dealing with Diminished Capacity Drivers, Part II

Dealing with Diminished Capacity Drivers, Part IIA previous post discussed the personal aspect of diminished capacity drivers. There are some legal implications as well.

California law gives a duty to doctors to report certain conditions, and broad discretion in interpreting their duty. The law requires physicians to report any lapse of consciousness, such as from a heart attack or seizure. Doctors may, in their discretion, also report any other condition if they believe that "the reporting of a patient will serve the public interest." Conceivably, this edict could apply to a person with dementia, vision problems, migraine headaches, loss of muscle control, incontinence or any number of other physical and/or mental conditions.

This report must be sent to the DMV. The report triggers a separate license suspension process for affected drivers in central California. First, there is an information-gathering phase. The officer reviews the driver's record, and the driver must provide a medical authorization form so the officer can speak with the doctor. Driving privileges may be suspended or revoked if the driver has been diagnosed with moderate or severe Alzheimer's disease or dementia, or if the driver fails to timely provide the required form.

In most cases, however, there is a more formal suspension process. Part of that process is a re-examination, which consists of:

The next phase is when you really need an attorney who regularly practices in Bakersfield. Based on the re-examination, the officer may either suspend or revoke the driver's license, place restrictions on the drivers' license, or take no action at all. Your attorney can refute the evidence against you, and also introduce evidence on your behalf. There is also a right of appeal.