New Mexico

New Mexico

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

Yes. The driver's license application (first-time and renewal) asks an applicant whether he or she has diabetes. If an applicant answers yes to this question, he or she is required to have a physician complete a medical report form. N.M. Stat. Ann. § 66-5-14(A) (2013) (generally authorizing the licensing agency to examine driver's license applicants for "any…physical and mental examination as [it] finds necessary to determine the applicant's fitness to operate a motor vehicle or motorcycle safely upon the highways").

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, physicians, family members, friends, other citizens, and hospitals. The licensing agency accepts anonymous reports and does not investigate reports 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 within a given time period, if they are involved in at-fault crashes resulting in a fatality, or if they have impairments which are observed by licensing agency personnel during the licensing process. N.M. Stat. Ann. § 66-5-30(A)(2), (B) (2013) (authorizing the licensing agency to suspend or revoke a driver's license because of his or her involvement in an accident and providing for reinstatement after reexamination); N.M. Stat. Ann. § 66-5-31 (2013) (authorizing the licensing agency to compel a medical evaluation if it has good cause to believe that a driver is incompetent or otherwise unqualified to be licensed).

What is the process for medical evaluations of drivers?

Individuals with diabetes must undergo medical evaluations when applying for driver's licenses for the first time and at all subsequent renewals. A Medical Report Form (MVD10124) is sent to an individual, which must be completed by his or her physician within 30 days. The Medical Report Form asks the physician whether the patient has diabetes, hypoglycemia, loss of consciousness, or other conditions. N.M. Motor Vehicle Division, "Medical Report," Form MVD–10124 (Rev. 06/2013). If so, the physician must describe the condition and its treatment (including any medications that the patient is taking); to state whether the condition is currently controlled; and to provide test results that may be relevant. The physician also is asked to give an opinion on  the following 1) whether, medically speaking, the individual is capable of safe and competent driving; 2) whether the individual suffers from any abnormal personality traits; 3) whether there should be any appropriate licensing restrictions; and 4) how often follow up any medical evaluations should be required. N.M. Motor Vehicle Division, "Medical Report," Form MVD–10124 (Rev. 06/2013). Medical Report Forms are returned to the licensing agency for review and a licensing decision.

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.

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?

For individuals that do not take insulin or take insulin and have been under treatment for at least eight years, licensing agency personnel will issue a license so long as an individual's physician indicates on the medical evaluation form that he or she is medically fit to drive. Individuals that do not meet this condition, i.e., that have been taking insulin for less than eight years, are referred to the state's independent Health Standards Advisory Board. When diabetes cases are referred to the board, one member—a general medical doctor, not an endocrinologist—generally makes decisions, and the process generally takes four to eight weeks. The board may require additional on-the-road examinations or any other physical tests recommended by the Board. N.M. Stat. Ann. § 66-5-6(B)-(C) (2013) (board may require road tests or other examinations). Although the Health Standards Advisory Board may advise licensing agency personnel with regard to licensing decisions, N.M. Stat. Ann. § 66-5-6(B)-(C) (2013), ultimate authority over licensing decisions resides with the licensing agency itself. N.M. Stat. Ann. §§ 66-5-24(A), -30(A)(1)-(11) (2013).

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

Upon five days' written notice, a driver may be required to undergo a medical evaluation if the licensing agency has good cause to believe that he or she is incompetent or otherwise unqualified to be licensed. N.M. Stat. Ann. § 66-5-31 (2013). A driver may be required to undergo a medical evaluation if, upon review of his or her case, the Health Standards Advisory Board determines that such an evaluation is necessary to making a recommendation as to a licensing decision. N.M. Stat. Ann. § 66-5-6(C) (2013). Drivers also may be required to have medical evaluations if they are involved in a given number of at-fault crashes within a given time period, if they are involved in at-fault crashes resulting in a fatality, or if they have impairments which are observed by licensing agency personnel during the licensing process. N.M. Stat. Ann. § 66-5-30(A)(2), (B) (2013) (authorizing the licensing agency to suspend or revoke a driver's license because of his or her involvement in an accident and providing for reinstatement conditioned upon reexamination); N.M. Stat. Ann. § 66-5-31 (2013) (authorizing the licensing agency to compel a medical evaluation if it has good cause to believe that a driver is incompetent or otherwise unqualified to be licensed).

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

No. New Mexico has adopted no specific medical guidelines related to diabetes since most diabetes cases are decided on a case-by-case basis by the Health Standards Advisory Board.

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

New Mexico has not adopted a policy about episodes of loss of consciousness but is working to develop such a policy. The state has adopted a policy regarding seizures, however, which requires that an individual who has had a seizure submit to the licensing agency a statement from a physician indicating that he or she has been seizure or episode-free for at least one year and that he or she either is not under medication or is taking medication without side effects before he or she will be licensed. N.M. Code R. § 18.19.5.34(B) (2013). If an individual that has had a seizure has been issued a restricted license, the licensing agency may remove any restrictions early if the individual is able to produce a satisfactory physician's statement. N.M. Code R. § 18.19.5.34(A) (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. There is no statutory authority providing for exceptions to New Mexico's policy regarding episodes of loss of consciousness and driver licensing. Again, if an individual that has had a seizure has been issued a restricted license, the licensing agency may remove any restrictions early if the individual is able to produce a satisfactory physician's statement, as described above. N.M. Code R. § 18.19.5.34(A) (2013).

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

An individual may make a written request for a hearing in the county in which he or she resides, which must be received by the licensing agency within 20 days of the suspension notice. N.M. Stat. Ann. § 66-5-30(B) (2013) (describing hearing process in detail). The licensing agency, in its discretion, may extend the 20-day request period. A hearing then is held so that an individual may provide proof as to his or her ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. Both the individual and the licensing agency may present evidence and testimony, and the individual may be required to undergo a driver examination. The licensing agency then will rescind, continue, modify, or extend the suspension. N.M. Stat. Ann. § 66-5-30(B) (2013). Except in cases of mandatory suspension or revocation, decisions of the licensing agency also may be appealed to the district court. N.M. Stat. Ann. § 66-5-36 (2013). For more information, see N.M. Motor Vehicle Division, "Hearing Requests," (Accessed 2013); N.M. Motor Vehicle Division, "Request for Hearing," Form MVD-10792 (Rev. 12/2008).

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

No. However, the licensing agency may, whenever good cause appears, issue a license with restrictions, including the shortening of the licensure period, appropriate to ensure the safe operation of a motor vehicle by the licensee. N.M. Stat. Ann. § 66-5-19(A) (2013); N.M. Code R. § 18.19.5.32, 18.19.5.3(A) (2013) (providing for the issuance of restricted licenses, or licenses with shorter licensure periods).

Is an identification card available for non-drivers?

Yes, with proper identification, proof of residency, and payment of a fee. See N.M. Stat. Ann. § 66-5-402 (2013) (describing identification and proof of residency requirements); N.M. Code R. § 18.19.5.12(A) (2013) (same). An individual may not hold an identification card and a driver's license concurrently. N.M. Stat. Ann. §§ 66-5-401(A), -402(A) (2013). An identification card is valid for a period of four years or, at the election of the holder, a period of eight years if he or she pays the applicable fee for an eight-year period. N.M. Stat. Ann. § 66-5-403(A), (C) (2013). A $5.00 fee is required upon application for an identification card with a four-year term, and a $10.00 fee is required upon application for an identification card with an eight-year term. N.M. Stat. Ann. § 66-5-408(A) (2013). Individuals 75 years of age or older may obtain identification cards free of charge. N.M. Stat. Ann. § 66-5-408(A) (2013).

Resources

Driver licensing in New Mexico is administered by the Motor Vehicle Division of the State Taxation and Revenue Department.