Virginia

Virginia

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

The driver's license application asks an applicant whether he or she has any physical or mental condition that requires him or her to take medication; whether he or she has ever had a seizure, blackout, or loss of consciousness; and whether he or she has a physical condition that requires him or her to use special equipment in order to drive. Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, "Driver's License and Identification Card Application," Form DL1P (Rev. 07/01/2013). Applicants that answer yes to any of these questions must have medical evaluation forms filled out by their physicians. Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-322(C) (2013). Knowingly giving false answers to these medical questions is a crime, punished as a misdemeanor, Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-322(C) (2013), and drivers convicted of making such materially false statements will their license for least one year. Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-317 (2013).

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, other citizens, and hospitals. Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-322 (2013) (relatives, licensed medical professionals, and other "persons" may supply information that gives licensing agency good cause to conduct medical examinations); Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-401 (2013) (mental health institutions must report unsafe drivers). Someone reporting a potentially unsafe driver may submit a medical review request. This MED 3 form has a special section for law enforcement officers to report unsafe drivers. Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, "Medical Review Request," Form MED 3 (Rev. 05/10/2013). The licensing agency does not accept anonymous reports, and, upon request, must reveal the identity of anyone who has supplied information. Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-322(B) (2013). Medical professionals and relatives are excepted: they can remain anonymous. Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-322(B) (2013). Drivers also may be required to have medical evaluations if they have impairments that are observed by licensing agency personnel during the licensing process. Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-322(A) (2013) (generally authorizing medical examinations when the licensing agency has "good cause to believe that a driver is incapacitated and therefore unable to drive a motor vehicle safely"). For more information, see Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, "Medical Fitness for Safe Driving," Form M80, (Accessed Sept. 2013).

What is the process for medical evaluations of drivers?

When the licensing agency has reason to believe a driver may be medically unsafe to operate a motor vehicle, either because the driver gave affirmative 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. Va. Code Ann. §§ 46.2-322(A), (C) (2013). When this occurs, a Customer Medical Report is sent to the individual, which must be completed by his or her physician within 30 days, based on an examination conducted within the last 90 days. Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-322(B) (2013); Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, "Customer Medical Report," Form MED 2 (Rev. 07/01/2011).

The Customer Medical Report asks a physician whether the individual has diabetes and whether there are any complications with the condition, including peripheral neuropathy. In addition, the report asks if individual has had hypoglycemic reactions and if such reactions have resulted in any motor vehicle accidents. In addition, the physician indicates if individual knows how to counter hypoglycemic reactions; and whether the individual monitors his or her blood-glucose level. The Customer Medical Report also generally asks whether the individual's condition is stable; whether the individual is compliant with treatment; whether he or she is taking any medication; whether the individual is capable of safely operating a motor vehicle; and whether the licensing agency should impose any restrictions on his or her license. Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, "Customer Medical Report," Form MED 2 (Rev. 07/01/2011).

Medical evaluation forms must be returned to the licensing agency within 30 days for review and licensing decisions. Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-322(B) (2013). Refusal to submit to this examination is grounds for suspension of the driver's license or driving privileges. Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-322(B) (2013). DMV Medical Review Nurses evaluate the medical reports, and determine if the driver meets all requirements. If not, the driver is suspended. If the driver meets all requirements, the DMV Nurse Evaluators may still refer the driver for additional testing, including road tests or knowledge tests. U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), "Medical Review Process […] in Virginia," DOT HS 811 484, July 2011, (Accessed Sept. 2013).

For more information, see Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, "Medical Fitness for Safe Driving," Form M80, (Accessed Sept. 2013).

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. However, ten days prior to discharge, institutions treating mental-health diagnoses are required to report to the licensing agency any individuals whose mental conditions may prevent them from being competent to drive motor vehicles with regard to safety of persons and property. Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-401 (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 medical conditions that could affect their ability to drive safely to a central state agency.

Who makes decisions about whether drivers are medically qualified?

Licensing agency personnel, including a registered nurse that serves as a medical consultant, review medical evaluation forms and make licensing decisions. Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-322(B) (2013) (authorizing the licensing agency to require a medical examination as a condition of licensure and to make licensing determinations based on that examination). These DMV nurse evaluators determine if the driver meets all medical and visual requirements and may order additional testing. U.S. DOT, NHTSA, "Medical Review Process […] in Virginia," DOT HS 811 484, July 2011, (Accessed Sept. 2013). If physicians' reports are conflicting or otherwise unusual, the case may be referred to the state's independent Medical Advisory Board for review and recommendation. Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-311(D) (2013) (allowing the licensing agency to refer visual-acuity determinations to the Medical Advisory Board); Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, "Mature Driver Safety," (Accessed Sept. 2013) ("The Medical Advisory Board has the authority to review an individual's ability to drive safely. Based on its assessment, the board can restrict, revoke or take no action regarding the individual's driver's license.")

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 responds affirmatively to medical questions on the license application. Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-322(C) (2013). Additionally, an individual also may be required to undergo a medical evaluation if he or she is reported to the licensing agency as a potentially unsafe driver or if he or she has impairments that are observed by licensing agency personnel during the licensing process. Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-322(A) (2013) (generally authorizing medical examinations when the licensing agency has "good cause to believe that a driver is incapacitated and therefore unable to drive a motor vehicle safely").

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

Virginia has not adopted specific statutory or regulatory guidelines related to diabetes. However, the policy in practice is that a driver newly diagnosed with diabetes may be placed on a three month review cycle, with the requirement to submit copies of blood glucose logs for 15 consecutive days, plus the results of a recent hemoglobin A1C. These glucose logs and A1C test must be taken after the second month of the diagnosis. U.S. DOT, NHTSA, "Medical Review Process […] in Virginia," DOT HS 811 484, July 2011, (Accessed Sept. 2013). In addition, the official medical report asks detailed questions about diabetes and incidents of hypoglycemia. Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, "Customer Medical Report," Form MED 2 (Rev. 07/01/2011). Finally, a driver may voluntarily choose to have a medical notice of insulin-dependent diabetes placed on his or her driver's license. The driver must present a signed statement by a licensed physician confirming the individual's condition, Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-342(M) (2013).

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

The licensing agency has a general policy that it will not issue a driver's license to any person who is "suffering from a physical or mental disability or disease which will prevent his [or her] exercising reasonable and ordinary control over a motor vehicle while driving." Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-315 (2013). Virginia's Medical Advisory Board has established a specific Seizure/Blackout Policy. An individual subject to episodes of loss of consciousness or seizures must submit a medical statement from a healthcare professional as a condition of licensure. A person must be seizure-free or black-out free for at least six months to establish medication and regain proper medical control before driving. Any person experiencing a seizure, loss of consciousness, or black-out will have their license suspended for six months from the date of the last episode. All cases are reviewed individually and independently. Based on the licensing agency's evaluation of an individual's medical records, it may require him or her to submit periodic medical reports as a condition of licensure. U.S. DOT, NHTSA, "Medical Review Process […] in Virginia," DOT HS 811 484, July 2011, (Accessed Sept. 2013); Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, "Medical and Mental Requirements," (Accessed Sept. 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. With regard to individuals subject to episodes of loss of consciousness, the licensing agency reviews any relevant medical information and evaluates each case independently in making licensing determinations. Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, "Medical and Mental Requirements," (Accessed Sept. 2013).

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

The licensing agency may not suspend, revoke, or cancel an individual's license without providing him or her with written notice of the action and without offering him or her an opportunity for an administrative hearing to show cause why such action should not be taken. Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-490.5(A) (2013). An individual must submit a written request for an administrative hearing within 30 days of receiving notice of the opportunity for such a hearing, and a timely request for a hearing will stay the operation of a proposed licensing decision. Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-490.5(B) (2013). However, a suspension will remain in effect pending the outcome of an administrative hearing if the licensing agency finds that an individual's conduct constitutes a danger to public safety. Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-490.5(D) (2013). A hearing shall be granted not more than 30 days after the licensing agency receives a timely written request. Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-490.5(D) (2013).

If a suspension or revocation is not mandatory, an individual may appeal the order to the circuit court; and from the final decision of the circuit court, either the individual or the licensing agency may appeal to the Court of Appeals. Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-410 (2013). Additionally, within 60 days of receiving notice of an action, an individual may appeal a decision of the licensing agency to the circuit court of the jurisdiction wherein he or she resides if it presents a case of manifest injustice. Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-410.1(A) (2013). Manifest injustice is defined as those instances where the licensing agency's order was the result of an error or was issued without authority or jurisdiction. Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-410.1(A) (2013). No appeal may lie from the final decision of the circuit court in cases of manifest injustice. Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-410.1(B) (2013).

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

Yes. Based on the merits of a case, the licensing agency may determine that an individual is able to drive with certain restrictions. Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-322(B) (2013). These special restrictions may be based on the person's driving ability. Va. Code Ann. § 46.2.329 (2013). Examples can include daytime only driving, no interstate, no highways with speeds greater than 45 miles per hour, or only within 10-mile radius of home. U.S. DOT, NHTSA, "Medical Review Process […] in Virginia," DOT HS 811 484, July 2011, p. 14, (Accessed Sept. 2013).

Is an identification card available for non-drivers?

Yes, with proper identification, proof of residency, and payment of a fee. Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-323.1 (2013) (requiring proof of Virginia residency); Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-345 (2013) (providing for the issuance of identification cards). The required fee to obtain an identification card is $5.00. Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-345(B) (2013). Individuals 70 years of age or older may exchange valid driver's licenses for identification cards at no fee. Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-345(A) (2013). An identification card is valid (1) until the holder attains an age exactly divisible by five and (2) for no less than three and no more than seven years. Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-345(C) (2013). Furthermore, a valid driver's license may be surrendered for an identification card without proof of legal residence. Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-345(G) (2013). For more information, see Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, "Obtaining and Identification Card," (Accessed Sept. 2013).

Resources

Driver licensing in Virginia is administered by the state Department of Motor Vehicles.