Vermont

Vermont

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

The driver's license application (first time and renewal) asks the applicant whether he or she has any physical or mental condition that could affect his or her ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles, "Application for Vermont Operator's License," Form TA-VL021 (Rev. 01/2013). Applicants who answer "Yes" to this question may be required to have a medical evaluation form filled out by their physician. Vt. Stat. Ann., tit. 23, § 603(a) (2012) (licensing agency may refuse to issue license if there is credible information the person is mentally or physically unfit).

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. The licensing agency does not accept anonymous reports, and may investigate reports before the driver is required to go through the medical evaluation process. Vt. Stat. Ann., tit. 23, § 603(a) (agency may deny license if given information by credible persons that applicant or driver is mentally or physically unfit to drive). Drivers may also be required to have a medical evaluation if they have impairments which are observed by licensing agency personnel during the licensing process, on a driving record, or on a disabled parking placard application. For more information, see Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles, "Licenses, Permits & ID's," (Accessed Aug. 2013).

What is the process for medical evaluations of drivers?

When there is good cause for the licensing agency to believe that a driver or applicant is not competent or qualified to drive, the agency may require a special examination to determine mental or physical fitness. Vt. Stat. Ann., tit. 23, § 632 (2012). The person does not need to pay for the special examination, which can include written test, on-the-road tests, and vision examinations. Vt. Stat. Ann., tit. 23, § 632 (2012). If a medical evaluation is required, an evaluation form is sent to the individual, which must be completed by a licensed physician. The form asks the physician if the patient has diabetes or other medical conditions, and whether the condition is totally stable. The medical examiner must then provide his or her opinion about the patient's medical fitness to drive. The physician may recommend against driving a motor vehicle, state there are no medical grounds to limit driving, or find medical fitness but require periodic progress reports or additional evaluations. Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles, "Universal Medical Evaluation/Progress Report," Form TA-VS113 (Rev. 02/2011). Medical evaluation 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 medical conditions that could affect their ability to drive safely to a central state agency.

Who makes decisions about whether drivers are medically qualified?

Vermont's medical review program is administered by non-medical licensing agency personnel, who generally rely on physician recommendations. Although Vermont does not have a Medical Advisory Board, the licensing agency "may designate physicians, ophthalmologists, oculists and optometrists properly registered and authorized to practice in this state as examiners of operators." Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 23, § 637 (2012). When requested by the licensing agency, such medical professionals examine drivers and report their findings and licensing recommendations to the licensing agency. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 23, § 637 (2012). The driver must pay the cost for these evaluations. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 23, § 637 (2012). Ultimate authority over licensing determination resides with the licensing agency. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 23, § 637 (2012); Vt. Stat. Ann., tit. 23, § 236 (2012) (licensing agency may suspend, revoke or restrict license).

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

When there is good cause for the licensing agency to believe that a driver or applicant is not competent or qualified to drive, the agency may require a special examination to determine mental or physical fitness. Vt. Stat. Ann., tit. 23, § 632 (2012). Medical evaluations may be required based on credible information received that the person is mentally or physically unfit to operate a motor vehicle. Vt. Stat. Ann., tit. 23, § 603(a) (2012). Drivers who experience alterations of consciousness must submit an initial medical evaluation to the licensing agency. 14-050-040 Vt. Code R. 14(b) (2013).

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

Vermont has no specific statutory or regulatory criteria governing the medical standards that individuals with diabetes must meet in order to be licensed; the licensing agency generally follows physician recommendations. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 23, §§ 636(a), 637 (2012) (generally authorizing medical evaluations for physical and mental fitness to drive).

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

An individual that experiences alterations of consciousness or conscious control may be licensed with such conditions and restrictions as the licensing agency deems appropriate. 14-050-040 Vt. Code R. 14(a) (2013). Prior to licensure, such an individual must submit an initial medical evaluation including information regarding his or her overall fitness to drive; recommendations regarding the necessity to furnish medical progress reports; the recommended frequency of such progress reports; the length of time such progress reports should be required; and any physician recommendations regarding follow-up written, road, and eye tests. 14-050-040 Vt. Code R. 14 (b) (2013). Upon submission of an unsatisfactory medical evaluation, an individual's license will be suspended until a subsequent and satisfactory medical evaluation is provided. 14-050-040 Vt. Code R. 14(c) (2013). The licensing agency also may consider any other pertinent facts, reports, or information in its possession when determining the fitness of an individual to hold a driver's license. 14-050-040 Vt. Code R. 14(e) (2013). No specific episode-free period is required by the state.

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 specified waiver of the policy regarding episodes of loss or alteration of consciousness.

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

If an individual is dissatisfied with the result of a medical examination made by a medical professional pursuant to Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 23, § 637 (2012), he or she may appeal to the licensing agency and subsequently undergo an examination by two other approved medical professionals. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 23, § 638 (2012). The decision of the medical professionals following the second examination is final. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 23, § 638 (2012). Furthermore, an individual who disagrees with a licensing agency decision may submit a written request for an administrative hearing within 15 days of the date of the notice of such decision, but if no request is made within 15 days, the right to a hearing is waived. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 23, § 105(c) (2012); Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 23, § 671(f) (2012) (providing the right to an administrative hearing in cases of license suspension or revocation). It is within the discretion of the licensing agency to determine whether initial or subsequent hearings in cases of license suspension or revocation will be granted. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 23, § 671(f) (2012). Notice of any hearing will be sent to the petitioner via first-class mail at least five days prior to the hearing. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 23, § 107 (2012). An individual aggrieved by the outcome of a hearing may appeal to the superior court. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 23, § 105(b) (2012).

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

Yes. When issuing or renewing a license, the licensing agency may restrict an individual's driving privileges "as the [licensing agency] may deem best." Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 23, § 612 (2012).

Is an identification card available for non-drivers?

Yes, with proper identification and payment of a fee. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 23, § 115 (2012) (specifying the procedures for obtaining an identification card). The initial fee required to obtain an identification card is $20.00. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 23, § 115(a) (2012). An identification card is valid for a four-year period and may be renewed at such time upon payment of a $20.00 fee. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 23, § 115(b) (2012). Disabled individuals may obtain identification cards for an initial fee of $10.00 and a renewal fee also of $10.00. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 23, § 115(j)(1)-(2) (2012). Individuals obtaining identification cards upon surrendering their driver's licenses are required to pay reduced fees. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 23, § 115(k)(1)-(2) (2012).

Resources

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