Illinois

Illinois

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

The license application (first-time and renewal) asks if the applicant has any condition which may result in temporary loss of consciousness and if the applicant has any mental or physical condition that might interfere with safe driving. See 92 Ill. Adm. Code 1030.16(a)(1) (2013). Applicants who answer “yes” to either of these questions must have their physicians submit medical reports and must sign the medical agreement contained in that report, as discussed below. Id.; see also Office of Secretary of State, Driver Services Dept., “Medical Report,” Form DSD DC-163.6, Aug. 2010.

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 licensing agency accepts reports of potentially unsafe drivers from police officers, the courts, government attorneys, and physicians. 625 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/6-911 (2013); see also 92 Ill. Adm. Code 1030.16(a)(3)-(5) (2013). The state accepts “written comments” or recommendations based on “firsthand knowledge” or pursuant to an official investigation. 92 Ill. Adm. Code 1030.16(a)(2) (2013). The comments are confidential, and must be submitted on official letterhead or a specified form. Id. The licensing agency does not accept anonymous reports or referrals from family members, friends, or the general public. Drivers also may be required to have a medical evaluation if they have impairments which are observed by licensing agency personnel during the licensing process. 92 Ill. Adm. Code 1030.16(a)(2)(2013).

For more information, see Ill. Office of the Secretary of State, Driver Services Dept., “Medical/Vision Conditions.”

What is the process for medical evaluations of drivers?

When the licensing agency becomes aware that an individual has a medical condition that may affect safe driving, the applicant is required to have a medical evaluation form (Medical Report) completed by a physician. 625 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/6-908 (2013); Office of Secretary of State, Driver Services Dept., “Medical Report,” Form DSD DC-163.6, Aug. 2010. The form must be submitted within 20 days. 92 Ill. Adm. Code 1030.16(e)(1)(2013). The information that the physician is asked to provide includes whether the individual is medically fit to operate a motor vehicle. Office of Secretary of State, Driver Services Dept., “Medical Report,” Form DSD DC-163.6, Aug. 2010. Diabetes is mentioned specifically. Id. Physicians are asked to provide information about medications prescribed, whether the condition is controlled under the current medical treatment regimen, and whether episodes of unconsciousness have occurred within the past six months. Id. The medical form also contains an agreement which must be signed by the applicant, which states that the applicant agrees to remain under the care of his or her physician and to follow treatment exactly as prescribed and authorizes the physician to report any changes in the applicant’s condition that would impair his or her ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Id. This agreement states that failure to comply with its terms is grounds for the licensing agency to deny or cancel the license. Id.  

When the medical evaluation form is returned, it is reviewed by licensing agency staff. Generally, the agency relies on the physician’s recommendation as to whether the individual can safely operate a motor vehicle in determining whether to grant a license. See 92 Ill. Adm. Code 1030.16(h)(2013). However, if the physician reports that the individual has had an episode of loss of consciousness within the last six months, but the physician still recommends that the individual can safely operate a motor vehicle, the case is referred to the state’s independent Medical Advisory Board for further review. 92 Ill. Adm. Code 1030.16(c)(1)(2013); see also 625 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/6-904 (2013) (providing that the licensing agency shall report individual cases to the Medical Advisory Board when it has “good cause to believe an individual by reason of a medical limitation would not be able to operate a motor vehicle safely”).

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

Physicians are not required by law to report drivers who have medical conditions that could affect their ability to drive safely; however, medical practitioners may, if they choose, submit such information to the licensing agency. 625 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/6-911 (2013). Drivers themselves are required to report to the licensing agency “any medical condition…that is likely to cause loss of consciousness or any loss of ability to safely operate a motor vehicle within 10 days of the driver becoming aware of the condition.” 625 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/6-116.5 (2013). Furthermore, an individual that suffers from periods of temporary loss of consciousness shall not be licensed “unless and until that person agrees to authorize a competent medical specialist to report any change in condition that would impair the person’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.” 92 Ill. Admin. Code § 1030.10 (2013).

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

Physicians who report drivers having medical conditions that could affect their ability to drive safely are immune from civil or criminal liability for providing such information, except for willful or wanton misconduct in the reporting thereof. 625 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/6-911 (2013); see also 625 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/6-910 (2013) (describing the legal immunity enjoyed by the Medical Advisory Board, which is shared by reporting physicians).

Who makes decisions about whether drivers are medically qualified?

Illinois generally relies on the recommendations of an applicant’s physician as expressed in the Medical Report form in determining whether an individual should be licensed. However, in certain situations, cases may be referred to the Medical Advisory Board for further review. See 625 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/6-904 (2013) (providing for review by the Medical Advisory Board); see also 625 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/6-905(b) (2013) (providing that Medical Advisory Board may conduct review). The licensing agency retains ultimate authority to issue and restrict driving privileges. 625 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/6-905(c) (2013). In conducting a review of an individual’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, the Driver’s License Medical Advisory Board may require him or her to submit to an evaluation by a physician of his or her choice approved by the licensing agency or the Medical Advisory Board. 625 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/6-907(1) (2013). The Medical Advisory Board subsequently may require an evaluation by an “impartial medical examiner.” 625 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/6-907(2) (2013).

The Medical Advisory Board reviews all cases where an individual has had an episode of loss of consciousness within the last six months but still receives a favorable physician recommendation. 92 Ill. Adm. Code 1030.16(c)(1)(2013). It also reviews all cases where an individual whose license has previously been cancelled due to medical reasons receives a favorable report from a physician. 92 Ill. Adm. Code 1030.16(c)(2013); see also 92 Ill. Admin. Code § 1030.18(a)-(e) (2011) (specifying functions of the Medical Advisory Board). Other functions of the Medical Advisory Board include determining the extent to which compensatory aids and devices must be used and the need for ongoing review or evaluation. 625 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/6-905(b) (2013).

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 answers affirmatively on a driver’s license application particular questions regarding physical or mental health (or is renewing license so obtained); if the licensing agency receives first-hand knowledge in the course of an official investigation or from law enforcement concerning the driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle safely; or if the licensing agency receives an “Adjudication of Disability court order in which…the court appointed a guardian to manage the financial affairs or the estate of the person.” 92 Ill. Admin. Code § 1030.16(a)(1)-(5) (2013).  

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

No. Illinois generally relies on physician recommendations in making licensing decisions. The state has no specific guidelines relating to diabetes other than its guidelines relating 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?

Drivers themselves are required to report to the licensing agency “any medical condition…that is likely to cause loss of consciousness or any loss of ability to safely operate a motor vehicle within 10 days of the driver becoming aware of the condition.” 625 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/6-116.5 (2013). A driver’s license is immediately suspended upon receiving an official report from authorized sources of any accident or event resulting from a seizure, attack of unconsciousness, or blackout. 92 Ill. Adm. Code 1030.16(c)(2013). An individual that suffers from periods of temporary loss of consciousness shall not be licensed “unless and until that person agrees to authorize a competent medical specialist to report any change in condition that would impair the person’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.” 92 Ill. Admin. Code § 1030.10 (2013).

There is no statutorily specified seizure-free period; however, the medical report form has a physician report any episodes of loss of consciousness, and must provide dates and details for any of these episodes. Office of Secretary of State, Driver Services Dept., “Medical Report,” Form DSD DC-163.6, Aug. 2010. Upon submitting a satisfactory Medical Report form, an applicant also must sign a statement whereby he or she pledges to remain under the care of a physician and adhere to treatment. Id. If an individual has had an episode within the last six months but still receives a favorable evaluation from his or her physician, his or her case will be referred to the Medical Advisory Board; but if the doctor’s recommendation is unfavorable, the individual’s license will be denied or suspended. 92 Ill. Admin. Code § 1030.10 (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?

No. Illinois law specifies no waiver of its policy regarding drivers that suffer from temporary periods of loss of consciousness.

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

If an individual’s license has been cancelled or denied for a medical reason, he or she first may seek review by a three-member panel of the Medical Advisory Board. See 92 Ill. Admin. Code § 1001.530 (2013). At this time, an individual may present evidence and testimony showing that he or she is competent to operate a motor vehicle safely. 92 Ill. Admin. Code § 1001.530(g)(3) (2013). Upon completion of the hearing, the three-member panel will prepare its recommendations, which the licensing agency will enter as an appealable administrative order. 92 Ill. Admin. Code § 1001.530(h) (2013).  

If an individual is unsatisfied with the outcome of the review, he or she may seek review in a hearing pursuant to 625 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/2-118 (2013). To request such a hearing, an individual must submit a written request within 20 days of after being notified of the agency action. 625 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/2-118(a) (2013). An individual may bring counsel to this hearing, and an order will be entered not more than 90 days after its conclusion. 625 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/2-118(d) (2013). Finally, the actions of the agency are reviewable in the Circuit Court of Sangamon County, in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County, or in the Circuit Court of Cook County. 625 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/2-118(e) (2013).

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

There are no probationary licenses. However, the licensing agency may for good cause “impose restrictions…appropriate to assure the safe operation of a motor vehicle by the licensee.” 625 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/6-113(a) (2013).

Is an identification card available for non-drivers?

Yes, with proper identification and payment of a fee. 15 Ill. Comp. Stat. 335/4 (2013). Additionally, 92 Ill. Admin. Code § 1030.12 (2013) governs the issuance of identification cards for homeless individuals, and 92 Ill. Admin. Code § 1030.91 (2013) governs the issuance of Illinois Disabled Person Identification Cards.
 
Resources

Driver licensing in Illinois is administered by the Driver Services Department of the Office of the Secretary of State.