Michigan

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

The driver's license application (first-time and renewal) asks an applicant whether he or she has, within the past six months, had a physical or mental condition that affected his or her ability to drive and if, within the past six months, he or she has had a fainting spell, blackout, seizure, or episode of loss of consciousness. If an applicant answers yes to either of these questions, he or she is required to have a physician complete an examination and submit a medical evaluation form before he or she may be licensed. See generally Mich. Admin. Code r. 257.853(1), (3) (2013) (requiring statement of physical history before licensing if reason to believe physical disability affects safe driving).

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, the courts, physicians, family members, friends, other citizens, and hospitals. The licensing agency does not accept anonymous reports and investigates the source of a report if the source's relationship to the driver is not clear. See Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.309(1) (2013) (licensing agency may refuse to grant a license without an examination based on information of physical condition received from any source). A concerned third party may make a report by submitting a Request for Driver Evaluation (OC-88) form. This report must contain identifying information about the driver, as well as specific information to justify the reevaluation of his or her driving ability. See Mich. Dept. of State, "Request for Driver Evaluation," Form OC-88 (Rev. 09/11). Drivers also may be required to have medical evaluations if they have impairments which are observed by licensing agency personnel during the licensing process, Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.309(1) (2013), if they have been involved in at-fault crashes involving a fatality, have accumulated significant numbers of accidents or points during a two-year period, or when driving privileges are to be restored following a revocation or suspension. See Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.320(1)(a)-(e) (2013).

What is the process for medical evaluations of drivers?

When the licensing agency has reason to believe that a driver may be medically unqualified 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 driver to submit to a medical evaluation. Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.320(1)(a) (2013); Mich. Admin. Code r. 257.853(1) (2013). When this happens, a medical evaluation form is sent to the individual, which must be completed, in part, by his or her physician. See Mich. Admin. Code r. 257.853(6)-(9) (2013) (setting forth standards for physician's statement). The Physician's Statement of Examination must be returned to the licensing agency, where it is evaluated and a licensing decision is made. See Mich. Admin. Code r. 257.853(1), (3) (2013).

The Physician's Statement of Examination (DI4P) asks the driver to indicate whether he or she has diabetes. See Mich. Dept. of State, "Physician's Statement of Examination," Form DI-4P (03/05/2013). It also asks about seizures, blackouts, or fainting. Id. The driver must explain any of the conditions listed. Further questions relate to the number of accidents or incidents of lost consciousness within the last five years, and current medications being taken. Id. The physician must indicate if they have concerns about the driver's ability to operate vehicle, and why. Id. A full section asks detailed questions about medical conditions, prescribed medicine, control of condition, and episodes of lost consciousness. Id. Finally, the physician must indicate whether restrictions or further evaluations should be conducted. Id.

The licensing agency may request additional medical information from the physician or order further tests before making a decision. Mich. Admin. Code r. 257.853(9) (2013). Periodic follow-up medical evaluations may be required. Mich. Admin. Code r. 257.853(10) (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. Physicians and optometrists may voluntarily report a patient's physical qualifications to safely operate a vehicle. Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.5139(1) (2013).

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

Yes. Physicians and optometrists are immune from civil and criminal liability for making a report, so long as they are acting in good faith and exercising due care. Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.5139(3) (2013). Conversely, a physician who voluntarily chooses not to make a report is also immune from any liability for any subsequent injuries caused by the unsafe driver. Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.5139(1) (2013).

Who makes decisions about whether drivers are medically qualified?

Licensing decisions are made by staff in the licensing agency's medical unit after reviewing an individual's medical information and giving strong consideration to the opinion of his or her physician. Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.320(2) (2013) (licensing agency has authority to restrict, suspend, or revoke license). The licensing agency may appoint health consultations, Mich. Admin. Code r. 257.852 (2013), and has created a Medical Advisory Board. An expert in endocrinology may be a health consultant. Mich. Admin. Code r. 257.852(2)(n) (2013). The health consultants may advise the department concerning physical and mental standards for motor vehicle licensing. Mich. Admin. Code r. 257.852(3) (2013). Upon request, the consultants may advise the department concerning an applicant's or licensee's physical or mental ability to drive motor vehicle. Mich. Admin. Code r. 257.852(4) (2013). Nevertheless, the opinions of health consultants are advisory and the licensing agency retains ultimate authority over licensing decisions. Mich. Admin. Code r. 257.852(5) (2013). For more information, see Michigan Secretary of State, "(Terri Lynn) Land Creates Medical Advisory Board." (describing creation of Medical 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 the licensing agency has reason to believe that he or she has a physical or mental disability that affects his or her ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.320(1)(a) (2013); Mich. Admin. Code r. 257.853(3) (2013). These reasons may include observation by licensing agency staff. Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.320(1) (2013). The licensing agency may also consider information from a Request for Driver Evaluation (OC-88) submitted by a physician or optometrist or any other concerned third party. Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.320(3) (2013) (physician or optometrist report should be considered for examination). A driver may also be required to undergo a medical evaluation for driving violations: 1) if he or she has in one or more instances been involved in an accident resulting in the death of a person; 2) he or she, within a 24-month period, has been involved in three accidents resulting in personal injury or damage to the property of a person for moving violations; 3) he or she has charged against him or her a total of 12 or more points within a period of two years; or 4) he or she has been convicted of violating restrictions, terms, or conditions of his or her license. Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.320(1)(b)-(e) (2013); see also Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.320a (2013) (providing for point system for various driving violations).

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

No. Michigan has adopted no specific medical guidelines related to diabetes, except for its guidelines related to episodes of loss of consciousness. However, the Physician Examination form specifically asks the driver whether he or she has diabetes. Mich. Dept. of State, "Physician's Statement of Examination," Form DI-4P (03/05/2013).

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

If an applicant or a licensee experiences an "episode," his or her license will be denied or indefinitely suspended after reexamination. Mich. Admin. Code r. 257.854(1) (2013). An episode is defined as any "condition which causes or contributes" to lapse of consciousness, blackout, seizure, fainting spells, syncope, or other impairments of the level of consciousness. Mich. Admin. Code r. 257.851(1)(e)(i)-(ii) (2013). It also includes any condition which causes or contributes to "violent or aggressive action" related to driving a motor vehicle. Mich. Admin. Code r. 257.851(1)(e)(iii) (2013). In order to regain his or her license, the driver must submit a Physician's Statement of Examination (DI-4P). Mich. Admin. Code r. 257.854(1) (2013). The physician must certify that the driver's condition is under control by medical or other treatment. All symptoms or conditions which would affect safe driving must have been controlled for at least 6 months. Mich. Admin. Code r. 257.854(2)(a) (2013). The physician must certify that the individual has not experienced an episode of loss of consciousness within the previous 6 months. Mich. Admin. Code r. 257.854(2)(b) (2013); see also Mich. Admin. Code r. 257.853(4)-(8) (2013) (specifying what information the Physician's Statement of Examination must contain). For chauffeurs and persons endorsed to operate trucks or buses, the requirements of the Physician's Statement of Examination are identical with the exception that the relevant episode-free period is 12 months. Mich. Admin. Code r. 257.854(3)(a)-(b) (2013). The licensing agency may require that an individual submit periodic follow-up medical evaluations as a condition of licensure. Mich. Admin. Code r. 257.853(10) (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. The 6-month or 12-month period may be reduced or eliminated based upon a departmental review of the specific recommendation of a qualified physician or any other information that may come to the licensing agency, including evidence that the episode of loss of consciousness resulted from medical intervention or medically supervised experimentation with prescribed medication, as well as the evaluation of other evidence. Mich. Admin. Code r. 257.854(4) (2013). Additionally, the licensing agency maintains that any action taken on the basis of a physical or mental condition or disability will be reassessed upon receipt of new medical evidence and documentation that the condition or disability has changed or abated or no longer exists. Mich. Admin. Code r. 257.853(11) (2013). All medical information submitted is reviewed by licensing agency personnel and at times in consultation with the Medical Advisory Board.

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

A driver may seek appeal to the licensing agency's administrative hearing officer or the circuit court. See Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.322-.323 (2013); see also Mich. Admin. Code r. 257.856 (2013) (providing the right to appeal final decisions of the licensing agency). A request for an administrative hearing must be made in writing within 14 days of the denial or suspension of the license. Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.322(2) (2013). To request a hearing, an individual may submit a Driver's License Appeals Hearing Request. At the hearing, an individual may present evidence and testimony, and before its commencement, the hearing officer may compel production of documents and transcripts of testimony. Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.322(2)-(3) (2013). Following the hearing, the hearing officer may affirm, modify, or set aside the final determination of the licensing agency. Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.322(5) (2013).

Alternately, an individual may request review of the licensing agency's decision in the circuit court of the county where the suspension or revocation was imposed or that of his or her residence by filing a petition within 63 days—or within 182 days with a showing of good cause. Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.323(1) (2013). The court will set a date for a cause for hearing not more than 63 days after receipt of the petition for review. Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.323(2) (2013). After presentation of evidence and testimony, the court will affirm, modify, or set aside the final determination of the licensing agency. Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.323(3) (2013). The circuit court will not grant an individual restricted driving privileges, and it will set aside the licensing agency's final determination only if the petitioner's substantial rights have been prejudiced. Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.323(4) (2013).

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

Yes. The licensing agency may issue limited or restricted licenses or endorsements to individuals that have experienced episodes of loss of consciousness on a case-by-case basis. Mich. Admin. Code r. 257.854(4) (2013); see also Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.312 (2013) (providing for restricted operator's and chauffeur's licenses); Mich. Admin. Code r. 257.3 (2013) (describing specific license restrictions).

Is an identification card available for non-drivers?

Yes, with proper identification and payment of a fee. Identification cards are issued at no charge to persons age 65 and over and to individuals whose licenses have been suspended due to medical reasons. See Mich. Dept. of State, "Driver's License or ID Requirements," Form SOS-428, (04/13). For more information, see Michigan Secretar of State, "Driver's License and State ID."

Resources

Driver licensing in Michigan is administered by the Department of State.

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