New Jersey

New Jersey

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

A driver's license application (first-time and renewal) asks an applicant whether he or she suffers from any mental, physical, or convulsive disorder. If an applicant answers yes to this question, he or she may be required to have a physician complete a medical evaluation form. N.J. Admin. Code § 13:19-5.1 (2013) (medical review for reporting convulsion disorder). However, individuals with diabetes do not automatically have to have a medical evaluation form completed unless they have suffered from episodes of loss of consciousness.

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 medical professionals, police, courts, social workers and family members. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 39:3-10.33 (2013) (providing for the reporting of potentially unsafe drivers by family members); N.J. Stat. Ann. § 39:3-10.4 (2013) (reports required from physicians). The licensing agency does not accept anonymous reports, and when reports are received from family members or other citizens, the agency requests medical reports from the driver's physician before a driver is contacted for medical review. Drivers also may be required to have medical evaluations if they are involved in a given number of at-fault crashes in a given time period, if they are involved in crashes resulting in a fatality, or if they have impairments which are observed by licensing agency personnel during the licensing process. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 39:3-10e (2013) (providing for the reexamination of drivers involved in at-fault accidents and accidents involving fatalities). For more information, see the following: N.J. Motor Vehicle Commission, "Reporting a concern," (Accessed Aug. 2013); and N.J. Motor Vehicle Commission, "Police and physicians," (Accessed Aug. 2013).

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, agency staff will determine whether the individual is required to have a medical evaluation. When an evaluation is required, the appropriate form is sent to the individual, which must be completed by his or her physician. The medical evaluation form asks a physician to provide a medical diagnosis and comments and to make a recommendation regarding whether an applicant is physically and mentally fit to operate a motor vehicle, as well as whether follow-up medical reports should be required. Medical evaluation forms are returned to the licensing agency medical commission for review and a licensing decision. Periodic follow-up medical evaluations may be required on the recommendation of the physician. For more information, see N.J. Motor Vehicle Commission, "Medical review process," (Accessed Aug. 2013).

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

Yes, for persistent or recurring loss of consciousness only. A physician treating any person 16 years of age or older must report the patient if any of the following conditions persist or reoccur in spite of medical treatments: 1) convulsive seizures; 2) periods of unconsciousness; or 3) impairment or loss of motor coordination. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 39:3-10.4 (2013). These symptoms may be due to conditions such as, but not limited to, epilepsy in any of its forms. The physician must report the patient within 24 hours or learning about the condition. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 39:3-10.4 (2013). Such reports are kept confidential and are used only for the purpose of determining the eligibility of a person to operate a motor vehicle on the highways of the state. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 39:3-10.7 (2013).

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

There is no statutory authority providing immunity from civil or criminal liability for physicians who report or fail to report drivers with conditions that could affect their ability to drive safely to a central state agency.

Who makes decisions about whether drivers are medically qualified?

Decisions generally are made by licensing agency personnel, including a special medical review unit. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 39:3-6.10 (2013) (generally stating that the licensing agency may suspend licensing privileges). In certain situations, cases may be referred to the state's Cardiovascular Committee or Neurological Disorder Committee for recommendations. N.J. Admin. Code §§ 13:19-4.1, -5.4 (2013). When a case is presented to the Neurological Disorder Committee for review, the licensing agency shares all available information with the committee, and each member of the committee separately reports his or her findings and recommendations. N.J. Admin. Code §§ 13:19-5.5 to -5.6 (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 suffers from recurrent convulsive seizures, recurrent periods of impaired consciousness, or impairment or loss of motor coordination and reports such information to the licensing agency. N.J. Admin. Code § 13:19-5.3(1)-(3) (2013). A driver may be required to undergo a medical evaluation if he or she is reported to the licensing agency as a potentially unsafe driver by a family member or any other source. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 39:3-10.33 (2013) (providing for the reporting of potentially unsafe drivers by family members). Furthermore, drivers also may be required to have medical evaluations if they are involved in a given number of at-fault crashes in a given time period, if they are involved in crashes resulting in a fatality, or if they have impairments which are observed by licensing agency personnel during the licensing process. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 39:3-10e (2013) (providing for the reexamination of drivers involved in at-fault accidents and accidents involving fatalities).

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

No. New Jersey has adopted no 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 driver who suffers or has suffered from recurrent convulsive seizures, recurrent periods of impaired consciousness, or impairment or loss of motor coordination due to conditions such as, but not limited to, epilepsy, in any of its forms, must demonstrate to the licensing agency (1) that he or she has been episode-free for at least one year with or without medication and (2) that he or she is medically qualified to operate a motor vehicle before he or she will be licensed. N.J. Admin. Code § 13:19-5.1 (2013). If the licensing agency believes that an individual suffers or has suffered from any of these conditions, it may deny or suspend his or her license after giving notice and an opportunity to be heard. N.J. Admin. Code § 13:19-5.2 (2013). If public safety is in danger, the agency may immediately suspend the driver's license. N.J. Admin. Code § 13:19-5.2 (2013). The medical evaluation that an individual must submit must contain (1) a statement by the individual of his or her case history; (2) a statement by the treating physician, including diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis; and (3) any other information which the licensing agency decides is necessary to evaluate his or her qualification to operate a motor vehicle. N.J. Admin. Code § 13:19-5.3(1)-(3) (2013). If an individual's license has been denied or suspended because of a loss-of-consciousness or seizure condition, it may be issued or restored if the individual submits (1) a current statement of his or her case history; (2) a current statement by the treating physician including diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis; (3) a current report covering the results of an electroencephalographic examination, if required; and (4) a current statement that the individual has been episode-free for at least one year with or without medication. N.J. Admin. Code § 13:19-5.8(a)(1)-(4) (2013); N.J. Admin. Code § 13:19-5.1 (2013) (specifying the one-year episode-free period). Furthermore, as a condition of licensure, an individual must submit a statement of his or her case history as well as a statement by the treating physician every six months for a period of two years from the date that licensure is approved and then annually thereafter. N.J. Admin. Code § 13:19-5.9(a)-(c) (2013). The licensing agency may modify the frequency at which these reports are required. N.J. Admin. Code § 13:19-5.9(d) (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. After the Neurological Disorder Committee has reviewed a case and its members have issued recommendations regarding it, the licensing agency may issue or reinstate an individual's license before the one-year episode-free period has elapsed when the specific characteristics of the person's disorder do not adversely impact his or her ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. N.J. Admin. Code § 13:19-5.7 (2013).

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

An individual whose license has been denied or suspended may request, in writing, a hearing within 25 days of receiving notice of the licensing decision. N.J. Admin. Code § 13:19-1.2(a) (2013). The request must specify the disputed material facts and the legal issues that an individual intends to raise, and if it fails to do so, the request will be denied without any possibility of appeal. N.J. Admin. Code § 13:19-1.2(d)-(e) (2013). The petitioner will be required to attend a prehearing conference conducted by the licensing agency. N.J. Admin. Code § 13:19-1.2(f) (2013). When an individual alleges no disputed material facts and alleges only legal issues, the licensing agency may consider the arguments and render a final decision; require the individual to attend a prehearing conference; or transmit the matter to the Office of Administrative Law for an administrative hearing. N.J. Admin. Code § 13:19-1.2(g) (2013). If a prehearing conference is scheduled and a petitioner fails to attend, his or her request for a hearing will be considered to be abandoned and the licensing decision will stand. N.J. Admin. Code § 13:19-1.5(d) (2013). An individual may be accompanied by an attorney at a prehearing conference. N.J. Admin. Code § 13:19-1.6(a) (2013). The petitioner and the licensing agency will attempt to resolve any disputed matters of fact or law at the prehearing conference, but if the parties fail to do so and disputed matters of fact or law remain, the matter will be transmitted to the Office of Administrative Law for an administrative hearing. N.J. Admin. Code § 13:19-1.8(c)-(d) (2013). The licensing agency shall not take administrative action against an individual without affording an opportunity for a hearing, and if it must act without affording such opportunity, it will provide one promptly. N.J. Admin. Code § 13:19-1.13(a)-(b) (2013). An individual has no right to a hearing if his or her license has been denied or suspended as required by law without the exercise of discretion by the licensing agency. N.J. Admin. Code § 13:19-1.13(c) (2013).

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

Yes. In the interest of public safety and with good cause, the licensing agency may issue a driver's license with any reasonable restrictions and conditions in light of the holder's physical condition, as well as restrictions appropriate to assure the safe operation of a motor vehicle by the license holder. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 39:3-11 (2013). Failure to follow these restrictions is punishable by a fine. Id.

Is an identification card available for non-drivers?

Yes, with proper identification and proof of residency, an identification card may be issued to any individual 17 years of age or older, any individual 14 years or older with written consent of parent or guardian. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 39:3-29.3 (2013). An individual may not hold both a non-driver identification card and a driver's license concurrently. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 39:3-29.3 (2013). An identification card is valid for a period of four years, unless its holder is blind, disabled, or handicapped, in which case it is valid for the life of the holder. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 39:3-29.5(a) (2013). The fee for an original identification card is $18.00, and a further $6.00 fee is required for a digitized photograph. N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 39:3-10f4, -29.7 (2013).

Resources

Driver licensing in New Jersey is administered by the Motor Vehicle Commission in the State Department of Transportation. For more information, visit.