South Dakota

South Dakota

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 in the past twelve months has experienced any epileptic or narcoleptic episodes or other convulsions, seizures, or blackouts. South Dakota Department of Public Safety, "South Dakota Driver License/ I.D. Card Application," Form DLAPP6 (06/2013). Any applicant who answers yes to this question must give the date of the last episode and must have a Medical Statement filled out by his or her physician. S.D. Codified Laws § 32-12-5.1 (2013) (authorizing licensing agency to require physician statement for any applicant experiencing 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 police officers, the courts, physicians, family members, friends, insurance companies, and other citizens. Private individuals may report potentially unsafe drivers by submitting to the licensing agency Driver Evaluation Request forms. Requests must be based on specific observations, events and incidents, not on general health information. South Dakota Department of Public Safety, "South Dakota Driver Evaluation Request," (Accessed Aug. 2013). The licensing agency does not accept anonymous reports, and all reports are reviewed to determine their legitimacy before drivers are contacted. Drivers also may be required to have medical evaluations if they have impairments that are observed by licensing agency personnel during the licensing process or when involved in accidents that resulting in fatalities. S.D. Codified Laws § 32-12-46 (2013) (generally providing that, upon at least five days' notice, the licensing agency may require an individual to undergo a medical evaluation if it has good cause to believe that he or she is incompetent to operate a motor vehicle).

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 undergo a medical evaluation. S.D. Codified Laws §§ 32-12-5.1, -46 (2013). When this happens, a Medical Statement form is sent to the individual, which then must be completed by his or her physician. The Medical Statement form asks the physician whether the individual has suffered from episodes of altered consciousness (such as blackouts, convulsions, or seizures); whether he or she is on therapeutic levels and compliant with taking medication; and whether the episodes are under control. South Dakota Department of Public Safety, "Medical Statement," July 1st, 2009, (Accessed Aug. 2013). The physician must indicate the number of months the patient has been episode-free. The Medical Statement form also asks the physician whether the individual has any other illness that would prevent him or her from safely operating a motor vehicle and provides space for the physician to comment on this condition. Medical evaluation forms are returned to the licensing agency for review and a licensing decision. Periodic follow-up medical evaluations may be required. S.D. Codified Laws § 32-12-5.1 (2013) (authorizing licensing agency to require physician statement for any applicant experiencing loss of consciousness before providing driver's license).

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 granting immunity from civil or criminal liability to physicians who report or fail to report drivers with medical conditions that could affect their ability to drive safely.

Who makes decisions about whether drivers are medically qualified?

Licensing decisions generally are made by non-medical licensing agency personnel, and are based on physicians' recommendations. If a physician's recommendation is unfavorable, an individual's license will be denied, cancelled, or suspended. South Dakota does not have an independent medical advisory board, and ultimate authority over licensing decisions resides with the licensing agency. S.D. Codified Laws § 32-12-49 (2013) (generally providing that the licensing agency may suspend, revoke, or cancel an individual's driving privileges); S.D. Codified Laws § 32-12-5.1 (2013) (providing that the licensing agency may revoke an individual's license for incidents of loss of consciousness.)

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

An individual may be required to undergo a medical evaluation if he or she gives affirmative answers to questions on the licensing application. S.D. Codified Laws § 32-12-5.1 (2013) (evaluation for loss of consciousness). An individual may be required to undergo a medical evaluation if he or she is reported to the licensing agency as a potentially unsafe driver; if he or she has been involved in accidents resulting in fatalities; or if the licensing agency has reason to believe that he or she may be physically or mentally incompetent to operate a motor vehicle safely. S.D. Codified Laws § 32-12-46 (2013).

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

No. South Dakota 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?

Before a license will be issued to an individual who has experienced an episode of loss of consciousness, the licensing agency must receive a statement from his or her physician indicating that any episodes are under control and that it is safe for the individual to drive. S.D. Codified Laws § 32-12-5.1 (2013); S.D. Admin. R. 61:18:03:01 (2013) (presumption of incompetence to drive and immediate suspension for person with infirmity making unsafe to drive). Individuals that have experienced episodes of loss of consciousness, convulsions, seizures, or blackouts must be episode-free for at least one year in order to be licensed. S.D. Codified Laws § 32-12-5.1 (2013). Temporary permits are available for individuals that do not satisfy the one-year episode-free period. S.D. Codified Laws § 32-12-5.1 (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. However, an individual whose license has been cancelled or suspended because of convulsions, seizures, or blackouts may obtain a temporary permit upon submission of a statement signed by him or her that his or her condition is adequately controlled by medication, he or she is continuing to take medication, and he or she is under the care of a physician. S.D. Codified Laws § 32-12-5.1 (2013).

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

An individual aggrieved by a decision of the licensing agency may request an administrative hearing by submitting a written request within 10 days of the date of the licensing decision. S.D. Admin. R. 61:18:01:02.02 (2013). Failure to request a hearing within the specified time period constitutes a waiver of such right, and if an individual fails to request a hearing, the licensing decision will stand. S.D. Admin. R. 61:18:01:03 (2013). A hearing will not be held any sooner than 10 days after notice of the hearing is issued, but an individual may waive this waiting period. S.D. Admin. R. 61:18:01:03.01 (2013). The licensing agency bears the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that an individual's driving privileges should be withdrawn. S.D. Admin. R. 61:18:01:11 (2013). At the conclusion of a hearing, the hearing officer shall recommend imposition of suspension, revocation, disqualification, or cancellation or dismissal of the intended action by the licensing agency. S.D. Admin. R. 61:18:01:05 (2013).

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

Yes. S.D. Codified Laws § 32-12-36 (2013) (providing that the licensing agency may impose restrictions on an individual's license "appropriate to assure the safe operation of a motor vehicle by the licensee"). A temporary permit may be issued to an individual upon submission of a statement signed by him or her that his or her condition is adequately controlled by medication, he or she is continuing to take medication, and he or she is under the care of a physician. S.D. Codified Laws § 32-12-5.1 (2013). A temporary permit is reviewable every six months until an individual has been episode-free for a period of one year. S.D. Codified Laws § 32-12-5.1 (2013).

Is an identification card available for non-drivers?

Yes, with proper identification, proof of residency, and payment of a fee. S.D. Codified Laws § 32-12-17.2 (2013). The fee required to obtain an identification card is $20.00. S.D. Codified Laws §§ 32-12-16, -17.2 (2013). An identification card is valid for a period of five years. S.D. Codified Laws § 32-12-17.2 (2013).

Resources

Driver licensing in South Dakota is administered by the Driver Licensing Program in the state Department of Public Safety.