Ohio

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 "is now or ever has been afflicted with epilepsy" or whether he or she "now is suffering from any physical or mental disability or disease and, if so, the nature and extent of the disability or disease." Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.06(A)(1)(c) (2013); Ohio Admin. Code 4501:1-1-18(A) (2013) (requiring these questions to be answered under oath). Applicants who answer yes to either of these questions may be required to have medical evaluation forms completed by their physicians. Ohio Admin. Code 4501:1-1-18(A)-(B) (2013). For more information, see Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, "New Driver Information," (Accessed Aug. 2013).

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, neighbors, and hospitals. The licensing agency does not accept anonymous reports, and reports from sources other than physicians, police officers, and the courts are investigated before a driver is contacted and required to undergo a medical examination. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.20 (standards for physician report of unsafe driver); Ohio Admin. Code 4501:1-1-02(A) (2013) (generally authorizing the licensing agency to require medical examinations when it has good cause to believe driver incompetent or unqualified to be licensed). Drivers also may be required to have medical evaluations if they have impairments which are observed by licensing agency personnel during the licensing process, Ohio Admin. Code 4501:1-1-18(B) (2013), or when they are involved in crashes involving a fatality or a given number of crashes within a specified period of time. Ohio Admin. Code 4501:1-1-02(A) (2013) (generally authorizing the licensing agency to require medical examinations when it has good cause to believe driver incompetent or unqualified to be licensed).

What is the process for medical evaluations of drivers?

When the licensing agency has reason to believe that a driver may be medically unsafe 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 may require the individual to have a medical evaluation. Ohio Admin. Code 4501:1-1-02(A), -18(A)-(B) (2013). When this happens, a medical evaluation form is sent to the individual, which must be completed by his or her physician. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.081(C) (2013); Ohio Admin. Code 4501:1-1-18(B) (2013). The medical evaluation form asks the physician about the date of the last symptoms or episodes of the condition or, if there have been no episodes, how long the condition has been under control. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.08(D)(3), .081(C) (2013). The physician is also asked whether the individual is dependable in taking medication regularly and as instructed. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.081(C) (2013). The physician is asked to give a professional opinion as to whether the individual's condition is presently under sufficient medical control to permit safe operation of a motor vehicle, whether periodic follow-up medical evaluations should be required, and whether any license restrictions are recommended. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.08(D)(3), .081(C) (2013). Medical evaluation forms are returned to the licensing agency for review and a licensing decision. Ohio Admin. Code 4501:1-1-02(A), -04(A) (2013). A medical evaluation form must be returned to the licensing agency within 20 days of the date of the required physical or mental examination. Ohio Admin. Code 4501:1-1-18(B) (2013). Periodic follow-up medical evaluations may be required (at six months, one year, or every four years at each license renewal) on the recommendation of the treating physician.

Are physicians required by law to report drivers who have medical conditions that could affect their ability to drive safely?

No. 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. However, a physician may voluntarily submit a report to the licensing agency stating that, in the physician's professional opinion, a driver may be incompetent or otherwise not qualified to operate a motor vehicle safely due to medical reasons. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.20 (2013). All such reports are kept confidential. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.20 (2013).

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

No. State courts have held that physicians have a duty to exercise reasonable care when certifying that individuals subject to impaired consciousness are under effective medical control pursuant to Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.08 (2013). Krejci v. Akron Pediatric Neurology, Inc., 511 N.E.2d 129 (Ohio Ct. App. 1987) (holding that a physician may be liable for injuries to third parties resulting from a patient's actions).

Who makes decisions about whether drivers are medically qualified?

Licensing decisions are made by non-medical licensing agency personnel and generally follow physicians' recommendations. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.19 (2013) (authorizing the licensing agency to cancel a license that was obtained fraudulently or unlawfully, was issued in error, or has been altered or willfully destroyed). On rare occasions, cases may be referred to medical consultants employed by the licensing agency. Ohio does not have an independent 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 he or she responds affirmatively to medical questions on a license application, indicating that he or she has a physical or mental condition that could affect safe driving. Ohio Admin. Code 4501:1-1-18(A)-(B) (2013). A driver may be required to undergo a medical evaluation if, after his or her license has been suspended or revoked, he or she attempts to obtain a restricted license or, subsequent to that, an unrestricted license. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.08(D)(3), .081(C) (2013). Drivers also may be required to undergo medical evaluations if they are reported to the licensing agency as potentially unfit to operate motor vehicles, if they have impairments which are observed by licensing agency personnel during the licensing process, or when they are involved in crashes involving a fatality or a given number of crashes within a specified period of time. Ohio Admin. Code 4501:1-1-02(A) (2013) (authorizing the licensing agency to compel an individual to undergo a medical evaluation when it develops reason to believe that he or she has a physical or mental condition that may impair his or her ability to drive safely); Ohio Admin. Code 4501:1-1-18(B) (2013) (same).

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

No. Ohio generally relies on physician recommendations and has no statutory medical guidelines regarding the licensing of drivers with diabetes other than its vision standards, Ohio Admin. Code 4501:1-1-20, -33 (2013) (describing the vision standards for licensed drivers), and those 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?

There is no statutory authority specifying a requisite episode-free period. Driver's license applications are required to ask whether an individual is now or ever has been afflicted with epilepsy or whether he or she now is suffering from any physical or mental disability or disease and, if so, the nature and extent of the disability or disease. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.06(A)(1)(c) (LexisNexis 2013); Ohio Admin. Code 4501:1-1-18(A) (2013) (providing that driver's license applications shall include questions as to the existence of a physical or mental condition which may impair the ability of an applicant to operate a motor vehicle safely). If an individual answers these questions affirmatively, he or she may be required to undergo a medical evaluation. Ohio Admin. Code 4501:1-1-18(A)-(B) (2013). Generally, a license will not be issued to an individual that, in the opinion of the licensing agency, is afflicted with or suffering from a physical or mental disability or disease that prevents him or her from exercising reasonable and ordinary control over a motor vehicle while operating the vehicle upon the highways. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.08(D)(3) (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. An individual subject to any condition resulting in episodic impairment of consciousness or loss of muscular control, who is otherwise qualified to drive, may obtain a restricted license for a six-month period if, in the opinion of the licensing agency, his or her condition is dormant or sufficiently under medical control that he or she is capable of exercising reasonable and ordinary control over a motor vehicle. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.08(D)(3) (2013); Ohio Admin. Code 4501:1-1-04(A) (2013) (providing that the licensing agency may issue restricted licenses to individuals providing satisfactory medical reports). To obtain a restricted license, an individual must provide a statement from a physician indicating (1) that his or her condition is under effective medical control and (2) the period of time for which the control has been continuously maintained. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.08(D)(3) (2013). An individual may not obtain a restricted license if a medical examination is ordered subsequently and cause for denial is found. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.08(D)(3) (2013). When a restricted license issued pursuant to § 4507.08(D)(3) expires, an individual may obtain an unrestricted license valid for one year. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.081(A) (2013). To obtain an unrestricted license, an individual must provide a statement from a physician indicating (1) that his or her condition either is dormant or under effective medical control, (2) that the control has been maintained continuously for at least one year prior to the date on which application for the license is made, and (3) that, if continued medication is prescribed to control the condition, the individual may be depended upon to take the medication. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.081(C) (2013). An individual must submit such a medical statement to the licensing agency not sooner than 30 days before the expiration of his or her license and may renew his or her license in this way for three consecutive years. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.081(B) (2013). An individual possessing both his or her original license issued under § 4507.081(A) and a satisfactory medical statement is entitled to drive for not longer than 30 days after the submission of the medical statement to the licensing agency. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.081(C) (2013). Finally, if a statement from a physician indicates that an individual's condition is no longer dormant or under effective medical control, his or her license will be cancelled. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.081(D) (2013).

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

The placement of medical restrictions (such as a requirement for periodic follow-up examinations) on a license may not be appealed. If an individual's driver's license has been cancelled or suspended for failure to comply with medical requirements or because of an unsatisfactory medical evaluation, an administrative hearing may be requested. The request must be made in writing and within 30 days of the mailing of the cancellation or suspension notice. The licensing agency will notify the driver of the time and place of the hearing. At the hearing, the driver may appear in person and be represented by an attorney or council, present evidence, and examine witnesses. Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, "Driver License Reinstatement Procedures," Form BMV 2401 (Rev. 02/2013) (Accessed Aug. 2013).

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

Yes. An individual subject to any condition resulting in episodic impairment of consciousness or loss of muscular control, who is otherwise qualified to drive, may obtain a restricted license for a six-month period if, in the opinion of the licensing agency, his or her condition is dormant or sufficiently under medical control that he or she is capable of exercising reasonable and ordinary control over a motor vehicle. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.08(D)(3) (2013); Ohio Admin. Code 4501:1-1-04(A) (2013) (providing that the licensing agency may issue restricted licenses to individuals providing satisfactory medical reports). To obtain a restricted license, an individual must provide a statement from a physician indicating (1) that his or her condition is under effective medical control and (2) the period of time for which the control has been continuously maintained. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.08(D)(3) (2013). An individual may not obtain a restricted license if a medical examination is ordered subsequently and cause for denial is found. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.08(D)(3) (2013). When a restricted license issued pursuant to § 4507.08(D)(3) expires, an individual may obtain an unrestricted license valid for one year. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.081(A) (2013). To obtain an unrestricted license, an individual must provide a statement from a physician indicating (1) that his or her condition either is dormant or under effective medical control, (2) that the control has been maintained continuously for at least one year prior to the date on which application for the license is made, and (3) that, if continued medication is prescribed to control the condition, the individual may be depended upon to take the medication. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.081(C) (2013). An individual must submit such a medical statement to the licensing agency not sooner than 30 days before the expiration of his or her license and may renew his or her license in this way for three consecutive years. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.081(B) (2013). An individual possessing both his or her original license issued under § 4507.081(A) and a satisfactory medical statement is entitled to drive for not longer than 30 days after the submission of the medical statement to the licensing agency. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.081(C) (2013). Finally, if a statement from a physician indicates that an individual's condition is no longer dormant or under effective medical control, his or her license will be cancelled. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.081(D) (2013).

Is an identification card available for non-drivers?

Yes, with proper identification, proof of residency, and payment of a $3.50 fee. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §§ 4507.50(A), .51(A)-(B) (2013). A valid social security number is required to obtain an identification card. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.51(A)(1) (2013). An individual cannot hold both an identification card and a driver's license concurrently. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.50(A) (2013). If an individual's license has been suspended or cancelled, he or she may be issued a temporary identification card including a statement that it is valid during the effective dates of the suspension or cancellation or, if the suspension or cancellation is indefinite, until the usual expiration of an identification card. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.50(A) (2013). An identification card is valid for a period of four years. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.50(A) (2013). Veterans with service-connected disabilities may obtain identification cards free of charge. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4507.50(B) (2013). For more information, see Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, "State Identification Card."

Resources

Driver licensing in Ohio is administered by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles within the state Department of Public Safety.

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