Are applicants for a driver's license asked questions about diabetes?
No. The driver's license application does not contain any questions about medical conditions.
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?
There are no written legal policies on who may provide information about a person's medical condition. According to its response to a 2004 survey question, the licensing agency receives reports of potentially unsafe drivers from: police officers, the courts, physicians, family members, friends, other citizens and hospitals. According to that same survey response, the licensing agency does not accept anonymous reports.
What is the process for medical evaluations of drivers?
If the licensing agency has sufficient documentation of a medical condition that prevents the safe operation of a vehicle, it may require "a medical examination by a physician qualified and licensed to practice medicine" in Arkansas. 006-05-039 Ark. Code R. § 2-27-16-907 (2013). This medical report will then be "evaluated" to determine if such person should be allowed to operate a motor vehicle in Arkansas. Id.
The person and the physician have 30 days to complete this form. The evaluation medical form has a section on diabetes, which asks if there is any history of diabetes, whether insulin is used and the dosage taken, and whether there is any history of coma or insulin shock. The form also asks the physician to indicate whether he or she believes that the person can drive safely. If the physician indicates that the patient does not have the ability to drive safely, then the license will be suspended.
If the medical report is favorable, then the driver may be referred for a skills test. A notice of "Suspension/Hearing" will state the date of the proposed suspension. 006-05-039 Ark. Code R. § 6-27-16-907 (2013). Failure to attend the scheduled hearing will remove any right to contest the suspension. Id. The licensing agency may require a person to pass all phases of the state driver license examination. 006-05-039 Ark. Code R. § 4-27-16-907 (2013). Authorization for this will be on a special clearance form issued by the administrative Hearing Officer. Id. The Hearing Office must be convinced that the person is "qualified medically to operate a motor vehicle." Id. Satisfactory test results must be returned to the Hearing Officer for "evaluation to determine if such person should be allowed to operate a motor vehicle." Id.
The licensing agency does not require periodic reexaminations or medical statements for any medical conditions.
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.
Are physicians who report drivers with medical conditions immune from legal action by the patient?
No. There is no statutory immunity from civil or criminal liability for physicians who report to the licensing agency drivers with medical conditions that may affect their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.
Who makes decisions about whether drivers are medically qualified?
State hearing officers make decisions about the licensing of drivers with medical conditions based on the physician's recommendation. See Ark. Code Ann. § 27-16-907(c)(4) (2012); 006-05-039 Ark. Code R. § 4-27-16-907 (2013). Arkansas does not have an independent medical advisory board.
What are the circumstances under which a driver may be required to undergo a medical evaluation?
The licensing agency may require a medical evaluation if it receives "sufficient documentation" of a "disease or…handicap…such as diabetes" that hinders the safe operation of a motor vehicle. 006-05-039 Ark. Code R. § 6-27-16-907 (2013).
Has the state adopted specific policies about whether people with diabetes are allowed to drive?
Diabetes is mentioned, along with epilepsy and alcohol addiction, as a "disease or…handicap," that may hinder the safe operation of a motor vehicle. 006-05-039 Ark. Code R. § 6-27-16-907 (2013). A person suspended for "diabetic blackouts" must have medical certification that they have "suffered no diabetic blackouts" for at least one year. 006-05-039 Ark. Code R. § 8-27-16-907 (2013).
What is the state's policy about episodes of altered consciousness or loss of consciousness that may be due to diabetes?
A person whose license is suspended because of "diabetic blackouts" cannot have his or her license reinstated until he or she has been free of episodes and the condition has been "under control" for one year. 006-05-039 Ark. Code R. § 8-27-16-907 (2013). This must be verified by a physician's statement. Id.
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?
No. There must be no "diabetic blackouts" for at least a year. (See above).
What is the process for appealing a decision of the state regarding a driver's license?
There is an appeal process for drivers whose licenses are suspended or restricted for medical conditions. Any decision of the department can be appealed to circuit court; an appeal must be filed within 30 days of the decision. Ark. Code Ann. § 27-16-913 (2012). The circuit judge has the authority to decide whether to uphold the suspension, or to overrule the hearing officer's decision. Ark. Code Ann. § 27-16-913(d)(1) (2012). The state has the burden of proving that the hearing officer's decision to suspension or restrict the license was valid. Ark. Code Ann § 27-16-913(d)(2)(2012).
Additionally, a driver whose license has been suspended or revoked is entitled to an administrative review of the decision by notifying the licensing agency within 20 days of receipt of the decision. Ark. Code Ann. § 27-16-907(e)(2) (2012). A hearing officer appointed by the Director of the Department of Finance and Administration will schedule a hearing in an office of the Revenue Division of the Department of Finance and Administration. Ark. Code Ann. § 27-16-907(e)(3)(A) (2012). The hearing may be located in the local county office. Ark. Code Ann. § 27-16-907(3)(B) (2012). The hearing may also be by telephone. Id.
May an individual whose license is suspended or denied because of diabetes receive a probationary or restricted license?
The licensing agency may impose any restrictions as "appropriate to assure the safe operation of a motor vehicle by the licensee." Ark. Code Ann. § 27-16-804(a) (2012). These restrictions may either be on the usual license form, or on a "special restricted license. Ark. Code Ann. § 27-16-804(b)(1) (2012). A restricted license will have identifying information, and a description of the time of day the person may operate the vehicle, and which areas the vehicle may be driven. 006-05-039 Ark. Code R. § 1-27-19-718 (2013).
A driver suspended for a having an unsafe medical condition must furnish a "medical release or statement" from a licensed physician in Arkansas before retrieving a full, unrestricted license. 006-05-039 Ark. Code R. § 8-27-16-907 (2013).
Is an identification card available for non-drivers?
Yes. An identification card is available to any person five years of age or older with proof of identification and a $5.00 fee. Ark. Code Ann. § 27-16-805(a)(1)-(2), (d)(1) (2012).
Driver licensing in Arkansas is administered by the Office of Driver Services within the state Department of Finance and Administration.