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 any mental or physical conditions which may make it difficult to operate a motor vehicle and whether he or she has had any seizures or loss of consciousness within the last six months. If an applicant answers yes to either of these questions, he or she is required to have a medical examination and evaluation performed by a physician. For more information, see Kansas Department of Revenue, "Getting a Driver's License."
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, family, friends, other citizens, and hospitals. Physicians or optometrists may report drivers who may be unsafe or dangerous because of medical conditions. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 8-255c(b) (2012). Any such report must state the diagnosis or assessment and whether the condition is likely to be permanent or temporary. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 8-255c(b) (2012). Anonymous reports are not accepted, and sources may be investigated by the agency before the driver is contacted. An examination of the driver's qualifications also may be triggered by a crash involving a fatality, an accumulation of crashes, from public information such as a newspaper article describing a crash due to loss of consciousness, or by the observations by licensing agency personnel during the application or renewal process.
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 will require the individual to have a medical evaluation. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 8-247(e)(5) (2012). In reviewing the medical evaluation, the licensing agency may request an opinion of the Medical Advisory Board. Id.; Kan. Stat. Ann. § 8-255b(b) (2012) (medical board may give advisory opinions). When this happens, an evaluation form is sent to the individual, which must be completed by his or her physician within 30 days. The form first asks the individual whether he or she has experienced or been treated for diabetes (or any one of a list of other conditions) within the last three years. The physician is asked to provide information about the diagnosis, prognosis, and medications prescribed for any conditions (including diabetes) that the individual has although no specific questions are asked about diabetes. The physician is also asked whether there is any evidence that the individual has a seizure or blackout disorder and is asked to provide the name of the seizure disorder, the date of the last episode, the frequency of episodes, and the medications prescribed. The physician is also asked whether the individual is compliant with taking prescribed medications, and whether any seizure disorder is under control. Finally, the physician is asked to describe any limitations caused by the individual's condition and how those limitations affect the ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, and is asked to recommend whether restrictions on the license (such as having a licensed driver in the front seat) are needed and whether an annual medical report should be required.
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 the state licensing agency. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 8-255c(a) (2012). However, a physician may voluntarily report an individual having a disorder or condition that in such physician's professional judgment could prevent the individual from safely operating a motor vehicle or could constitute an immediate and serious danger to the public. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 8-255c(b) (2012). Such information contained in the report is not protected by the doctor-patient privilege. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 8-255c(b) (2012). Furthermore, reports are kept confidential and cannot be used in any other administrative, civil, or criminal matter. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 8-255c(b) (2012).
Are physicians who report drivers with medical conditions immune from legal action by the patient?
For civil liability, yes. Physicians who, in good faith, report drivers with medical conditions that could affect their ability to drive safely shall not be subject to any civil action for damages as a result of reporting such information. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 8-255c(a) (2012). However, immunity from criminal liability is not statutorily provided.
Who makes decisions about whether drivers are medically qualified?
When medical evaluation forms are returned, they are first reviewed by licensing agency personnel within the Driver Review Section who check the evaluation forms for completeness. Licensing agency personnel normally make a licensing decision based on the medical information submitted, but in unusual circumstances cases may be referred to the state's independent Medical Advisory Board. See Kan. Stat. Ann. § 8-255b(b) (2012). If the driver is self-reporting a medical condition and there have been no episodes of loss of consciousness within the last six months, and if the applicant's physician recommends that the applicant can operate a motor vehicle safely, normally the agency will issue the license with whatever restrictions the physician recommends. See Kan. Stat. Ann. § 8-247(e)(6) (2012).
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 when the licensing agency has good cause to believe that he or she is incompetent or otherwise not qualified to operate a motor vehicle in accord with the public safety and welfare. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 8-247(e)(5) (2012). A driver also may be required to undergo a medical evaluation if he or she responds affirmatively to medical questions on the license application; if he or she has experienced a seizure or episode of loss of consciousness within the last six months, Kan. Stat. Ann. § 8-247(e)(6) (2012); if agency personnel observe impairments during the licensing process; or if sufficient information is reported from one of the sources listed above.
Has the state adopted specific policies about whether people with diabetes are allowed to drive?
No. Kansas has not adopted specific medical guidelines related to diabetes, except for its 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?
A license will not be issued to any individual subject to a seizure disorder unless the condition is controlled. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 8-237(e) (2012). A seizure disorder is considered to be controlled if an individual has not sustained a seizure or episode of loss of consciousness during waking hours for at least six months prior to application for licensure or renewal. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 8-247(e)(6) (2012). To verify that a seizure disorder is controlled, a physician must submit a written report stating as much. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 8-247(e)(6) (2012). The report must have been made not more than three months prior to the date on which it is submitted, and it must be made on a form provided by the licensing agency. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 8-247(e)(6) (2012). However, if a seizure disorder is considered to be uncontrolled, the licensing agency may issue a license with restrictions determined to be appropriate to assure the safe operation of a motor vehicle by the licensee. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 8-247(e)(6) (2012).
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. According to the Kansas Division of Motor Vehicles, an exception to the above policy may be made upon verification from a licensed physician of one of the following: the individual has only nocturnal seizures; the seizure(s) resulted from a doctor-supervised tapering or weaning of anti-seizure medication with immediate reinstatement of the medication; the seizure(s) was very minor, such as a tingling in the hand, or the seizure(s) manifest themselves in odd sensations that do not interfere with attention; or the seizure(s) resulted from acute illness or injury. In these instances, an individual's license may be reinstated early upon the advice of the Medical Advisory Board. (Note: the preceding information is taken from the Epilepsy Foundation, and statutory authority can be provided neither from the Epilepsy Foundation nor independently.)
What is the process for appealing a decision of the state regarding a driver's license?
If a driver's license is denied, suspended, or revoked for medical reasons, the driver is entitled to an administrative hearing in which he or she appeals the decision. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 8-247(e)(5) (2012). A driver also may petition the Medical Advisory Board for review of the licensing agency's decision. See Kan. Stat. Ann. § 8-255b(a) (2012). Within 30 days of receipt of any notice of the denial, suspension, or revocation, the driver must submit a written request for administrative review to the licensing agency. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 8-255(c) (2012). At this hearing, the driver may provide evidence demonstrating that he or she is not physically or mentally incompetent to safely operate a motor vehicle. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 8-255(c) (2012). The licensing agency shall notify the driver of its decision on review within 30 days of receiving the written request. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 8-255(c) (2012). Any revocation or suspension imposed by the licensing agency remains in effect pending the outcome of the administrative hearing. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 8-255(c) (2012). Additionally, a driver may seek judicial review of the licensing agency's decision by filing an appeal in the court of the county where the administrative hearing was held within 10 days. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 8-259(a) (2012).
May an individual whose license is suspended or denied because of diabetes receive a probationary or restricted license?
If an individual's license has been suspended or revoked because of an uncontrolled seizure disorder, then he or she may obtain a license with restrictions determined to be appropriate to assure the safe operation of a motor vehicle by the licensee. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 8-247(e)(6) (2012). The restrictions will be placed on the usual license. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 8-245 (2012) (addressing restricted licenses generally).
Is an identification card available for non-drivers?
Yes, with proper identification and payment of fee. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 8-1324(a)-(b) (2012). The fee for individuals age 65 and older, as well as handicapped individuals, is $10.00; the fee for all other applicants is $14.00. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 8-1324(g) (2012).
Driver licensing in Kansas is administered by the Division of Vehicles within the state Department of Revenue.