Florida

Florida

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

No. However, an applicant for a driver's license must list all physical or mental problems that might affect driving. Fl. Dept. of Highway Safety, Div. of Motor Vehicles, &"2013 Florida Driver's Handbook," HSMV 71902, Sec. 2.8 (Revised 10/2012). An applicant with "epilepsy, fainting spells, dizziness, blackouts or any other medical condition that could impair" driving may need to complete a medical evaluation process. Id. Also, individuals who communicate to licensing agency personnel during the licensing process that they suffer from complications of diabetes (such as peripheral neuropathy) will have their medical condition investigated and may be referred to the state's medical advisory board. (See below).

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, other citizens and hospitals. See Fla. Stat. § 322.126(2) (2013) (authorizing "[a]ny physician, person, or agency having knowledge of any licensed driver's or applicant's mental or physical disability to drive or need to obtain or to wear a medical identification bracelet…to report such knowledge" to the licensing agency). Law enforcement, physicians, licensing agency officers, and family members may submit a Medical Reporting Form (72190), specifying in writing the full name, date of birth, address, and a description of the alleged physical or mental disability of any person over 15 years of age that could affect the driving ability. Fl. Dept. of Highway Safety, "Medical Reporting Form," HSMV Form 72190 (Rev 07/13) "Uncontrolled Diabetes" is listed as a check-box item on this form. Id. The licensing agency does not accept anonymous reports, and it investigates any referrals from non-professional sources before it initiates an evaluation.

Drivers may also be required to have a medical evaluation if they have impairments which are observed by licensing agency personnel during the licensing process. See Fla. Admin. Code Ann. r. 15A-1.010(1) (2013); Furthermore, the licensing agency may pursue the reexamination of a driver upon due cause. See also Fla. Stat. § 322.221(2)(b) (2013).

What is the process for medical evaluations of drivers?

When the licensing agency receives information that an individual may not be qualified to drive, the agency determines that a medical review is needed and the driver is requested to obtain a medical report from a physician. Fla. Admin. Code Ann. r. 15A-1.010(1) (2013); see also Fla. Stat. § 322.221(2)(c) (2013). In addition to providing information about the condition and dates of any episodes of altered consciousness, medications the driver is taking, and whether the driver adheres to the treatments prescribed, the physician is asked for an opinion on whether the individual can operate a motor vehicle safely. Medical reports received from physicians are generally referred to the state's independent Medical Advisory Board for evaluation and recommendation. Fla. Stat. § 322.221(2)(c) (2013).

The Board may require periodic follow-up medical reports on a schedule it deems appropriate. See Fla. Stat. § 322.221(2)(b) (2013). Additionally, a temporary driving permit may be issued to applicants who have been referred for medical reports. Fla. Admin. Code Ann. r. 15A-1.024(1)(c) (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. However, any physician may report their patient. Fla. Stat. § 322.126(2) (2013). All such reports are confidential, Fla. Stat. § 322.126(3) (2013); see also Fla. Stat. § 322.125(4) (2011) (providing that reports received or made by the Medical Advisory Board are confidential), and may not be used as evidence in any civil or criminal trial or in any court proceeding. Fla. Stat. § 322.126(4) (2013).

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

A physician that reports drivers with medical conditions that could affect their ability to drive safely is immune from civil or criminal liability for making such reports. Fla. Stat. § 322.126(3) (2013); see also Fla. Stat. § 322.125(5) (2013) ("There shall be no monetary liability on the part of, and no cause of action for damages shall arise against, any member of the board for any action taken without intentional fraud in carrying out the provisions of [§ 322.125]").

Who makes decisions about whether drivers are medically qualified?

The licensing agency's medical review section makes decisions in routine cases, such as follow-up examinations of individuals under medical guidelines for specific conditions such as seizure disorders. However, most decisions about medical qualification of drivers are referred to the state's Medical Advisory Board. Fla. Stat. § 322.125(3)(a) (2013) (providing that the Medical Advisory Board shall advise the licensing agency on the medical criteria and vision standards relating to the licensing of drivers). The licensing agency makes the final decision on all cases referred to the Board, but generally follows the Board's recommendation.

What are the circumstances under which a driver may be required to undergo a medical evaluation?

If the licensing agency has reason to believe that a licensee is physically or mentally unqualified to operate a motor vehicle" the driver may need to submit a medical report to the medical advisory board. Fla. Stat. § 322.221(2)(c) (2013). If the licensing agency has good cause to believe that an individual is incapable of driving safely, or an individual has admitted to being subject to certain restricting conditions, the individual may be required to undergo a medical evaluation as a condition of licensure. Fla. Admin. Code Ann. r. 15A-1.010(1) (2013). Drivers may also be required to have a medical evaluation if they have impairments which are observed by licensing agency personnel during the licensing process. See Fla. Admin. Code Ann. r. 15A-1.010(1) (2013); see also Fla. Stat. § 322.221(2)(b) (2013). Furthermore, the licensing agency may pursue the reexamination of a driver following the submission of a Medical Reporting Form (72190), specifying in writing the full name, date of birth, address, and a description of the alleged physical or mental disability of any person over 15 years of age that could affect the driving ability. Fl. Dept. of Highway Safety, "Medical Reporting Form," HSMV Form 72190 (Rev 07/13).

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

No. The only statutory provisions specifically addressing drivers with diabetes is a provision allowing for a voluntary diabetes medical alert marking. Drivers, if they want, may have distinctive mark on their license, indicating that they have insulin-dependent diabetes. Fla. Stat. § 322.141(2)(a) (2013). This is not mandatory. The statement of the applicant that he or she has insulin-dependent diabetes is sufficient proof. Fla. Admin. Code Ann. r. 15A-1.0298 (2013).

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

Any person reporting seizures or loss of consciousness must be referred for a medical evaluation. Fla. Admin. Code Ann. r. 15A-1.010 (2013). A physician must complete the medical evaluation form (see above.) Id. The application is reviewed by the Medical Advisory Board, which makes a recommendation to the licensing agency. See Fla. Stat. § 322.125(3)(b) (2013).

According to a Florida Department of Health website, last revised in 2010, an individual subject to seizures may be issued a driver's license upon his or her physician's recommendation after having been seizure-free for at least six months, as long as he or she is under regular medical supervision and submits a current neurological evaluation. Florida Department of Health, "Neurological Guidelines for Applicants with Seizures," Mar. 1st, 2010 (Accessed Aug, 2013). If the Medical Advisory Board believes there are particular factors that would make it unsafe for a person to drive even though the person has been seizure-free for six months, it may recommend a longer seizure-free period. Id. An evaluation is not needed for applicants who have been seizure-free for 2 years. Applicants with only chronic nocturnal seizures will be considered on an individual basis. 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?

Applicants with only chronic nocturnal seizures will be considered on an individual basis. (See above). Additionally, a temporary driving permit—form HSMV-71900—may be issued to applicants who have been referred for medical reports. Fla. Admin. Code Ann. r. 15A-1.024(1)(c) (2013).

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

Any person whose driving privilege has been cancelled, suspended or revoked, may petition the Department for an administrative hearing. Fla. Admin. Code Ann. r. 15A-1.0195 (2013); see also Fla. Stat. § 322.222 (2013) (providing that a driver may request an administrative hearing to review a license revocation under § 322.221(3)). The driver must submit a statement of reasons for the appeal, and three "letters of recommendation from respected persons in the community in which the applicant resides." Fla. Admin. Code Ann. r. 15A-1.0195(1) (2013). The applicant may present new medical evidence at the administrative hearing.

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

Drivers may in some circumstances be approved for a restricted license to participate in a driver rehabilitation program if the department believes such training would be beneficial. See Fla. Stat. § 322.0261 (2013). Additionally, a temporary driving permit may be issued to applicants who have been referred for medical reports. Fla. Admin. Code Ann. r. 15A-1.024(1)(c) (2013).

Is an identification card available for non-drivers?

Yes, with proper identification and payment of fee. Fla. Stat. § 322.051(1) (2013). For more information, see Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, "Obtaining your Florida Driver's License or Identification Card."

Resources

Driver licensing in Florida is administered by the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.