Wisconsin

Wisconsin

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, during the preceding year, has experienced an episode of loss of consciousness or muscle control caused by any of a list of conditions, including diabetes and a seizure disorder, and must list the dates of these episodes. Wisconsin Department of Transportation, "Driver License (DL) Application," Form MV3001 (Rev. 12/2012). Any applicant who answers yes to this question must submit with his or her application a letter of explanation and may be required to undergo a medical evaluation. Wis. Stat. § 343.16(5)(a) (2013) (authorizing examinations for applicants with conditions preventing reasonable and ordinary control over vehicle); Wis. Admin. Code Trans. § 112.03(5) (2013) (authorizing examinations when licensing agency learns that person applying for or renewing license has medical condition affecting safe driving).

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. Wis. Stat. § 343.16(5)(a), (6)(a) (2013); Wis. Admin. Code Trans. § 107.04(1)(d) (listing sources of information considered in licensing decisions). Individuals may use a specific form to report potentially unsafe drivers. Wisconsin Department of Transportation, "Driver Condition or Behavior Report," Form MV3141 (Rev. 01/2013). The licensing agency does not accept anonymous reports, and the report form is available upon request by the driver. The licensing agency investigates reports if there is concern regarding malicious intent. Drivers also may be required to undergo medical evaluations if they have impairments that are observed by licensing agency personnel during the licensing process. Wis. Admin. Code Trans. § 112.04(2) (2013); Wis. Stat. § 343.16(6)(a) (2013) (examination required when licensing agency has good cause to believe driver is incompetent or not qualified); Wis. Admin. Code Trans. § 112.03(5) (2013) (authorizing examinations when licensing agency learns that person applying for or renewing license has medical condition affecting safe driving). For more information, see Wisconsin Department of Transportation, "Driver medical concerns," (Accessed Sept. 2013).

What is the process for medical evaluations of drivers?

When the licensing agency has reason to believe that an individual may be medically unqualified to operate a motor vehicle, either because he or she gave affirmative responses to medical questions on the license application or because of a report from one of the other sources listed above, it will require him or her to undergo a medical evaluation. Wis. Stat. § 343.16(5)(a) (2013); Wis. Admin. Code Trans. § 112.03(5) (2013). When a medical evaluation is required, a Medical Examination Report is given to an individual, which then must be completed by his or her physician within 30 days, based on an examination within the last three months. Wisconsin Department of Transportation, "Medical Examination Report," Form MV3644 (Rev. 01/2013).

The Medical Examination Report asks a physician whether the individual's condition is stable; whether he or she is reliable in following a treatment regimen; and whether he or she experiences side effects of medication that are likely to impair driving ability. Wisconsin Department of Transportation, "Medical Examination Report," Form MV3644 (Rev. 01/2013). The form also asks if he or she has experienced an episode of altered consciousness or loss of bodily control during the preceding 12 months; and whether the individual's driving ability is limited in any of a number of ways. With regard to neurological conditions, the Medical Examination Report asks a physician about the date of the individual's last episode of loss of consciousness or control, related medications, and any related movement disorder. With regard to diabetes, the Medical Examination Report asks a physician about an individual's medication regimen, last hemoglobin A1C and blood-glucose readings, and blood-glucose monitoring habits. The form also asks about hypoglycemic reactions requiring assistance, whether he or she knows how to counter such reactions, and whether he or she has been hospitalized for diabetes-related complications. Finally, the Medical Examination Report asks a physician whether the individual is medically safe to operate a motor vehicle; whether he or she should be subjected to a driver reexamination; whether his or her driving privileges should be restricted; and whether periodic follow-up examinations should be a condition of licensure. Wisconsin Department of Transportation, "Medical Examination Report," Form MV3644 (Rev. 01/2013).

Medical Examination Reports are returned to the licensing agency for review and licensing decisions. Wis. Admin. Code Trans. § 112.03(6) (2013). In making licensing determinations the licensing agency may consider the history of an individual's illness; the severity of symptoms, complications, and prognosis; treatment and medications, including effects and side effects, and an individual's knowledge and use of medications; results of medical tests and reports of laboratory findings; reports of driver condition or behavior; and the results of a departmental screening of an individual's vision or hearing. Wis. Admin. Code Trans. § 112.04 (2013). An individual may not be licensed if a medical report shows any of the following: 1) effects or side effects of medication that interfere with safe driving, unless a physician indicates that the situation is temporary and not likely to recur; 2) complications of a condition that interfere with safe driving as assessed by a physician or as determined by a driving evaluation; 3) the individual is not reliable in following a prescribed treatment program to the extent that noncompliance could affect his or her ability to drive safely; 4) there is medical evidence that the individual uses alcohol or other drugs to an extent that it has an adverse effect on a medical condition or interferes with treatment for his or her condition; or 5) there is medical evidence of a condition that is likely to be accompanied by a syncope or collapse or which otherwise may interfere with safe driving. Wis. Admin. Code Trans. § 112.045(1)-(5) (2013). The licensing agency may require a person that has a progressive, recurring, or debilitating condition to submit to follow-up examinations and reports by a physician or vision specialist as a condition of licensure. Wis. Admin. Code Trans. § 112.17 (2013). For more information, see Wisconsin Department of Transportation, "Driving with a medical condition," (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, "a physician or advanced practice nurse prescriber…who treats a patient whose physical or mental condition in the physician[']s or advanced practice nurse prescriber[']s judgment affects the patient[']s ability to exercise reasonable and ordinary control over a motor vehicle may report the patient[']s name and other information relevant to the condition to the [licensing agency] without the informed consent of the patient." Wis. Stat. § 146.82(3)(a) (2013). The same policy applies to optometrists in relation to individuals' visual conditions. Wis. Stat. § 146.82(3)(b) (2013).

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

When acting in good faith, physicians are immune from civil liability for reporting or failing to report drivers with medical conditions that could affect their ability to drive safely to a central state agency. Wis. Stat. § 448.03(5)(b)(1)-(2) (2013).

Who makes decisions about whether drivers are medically qualified?

The licensing agency retains ultimate authority over all licensing decisions, Wis. Stat. § 343.25 (2013) (authorizing the licensing agency to cancel licenses); Wis. Stat. § 343.34 (2013) (authorizing the licensing agency to suspend licenses), and licensing agency personnel (including a registered nurse) make all licensing decisions generally based on physician recommendations and state medical guidelines. If an individual's license has been denied or cancelled for medical reasons, a review board composed of at least two physicians may review his or her case. Wis. Stat. § 343.16(5)(a)-(b) (2013); Wis. Admin. Code Trans. § 112.20(1)-(2) (2013).

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, thereby indicating the presence of a potentially disqualifying medical condition. Wis. Stat. § 343.16(5)(a) (2013); Wis. Admin. Code Trans. § 112.03(5) (2013). 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. Wis. Stat. § 343.16(6)(a) (2013); Wis. Admin. Code Trans. §§ 107.04(1)(d), 112.04(2) (2013). Additionally, drivers also may be required to undergo medical evaluations if they have impairments that are observed by licensing agency personnel during the licensing process. Wis. Stat. § 343.16(6)(a) (2013); Wis. Admin. Code Trans. § 112.03(5) (2013).

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

Yes. Wis. Admin. Code Trans. § 112.08 (2013) (providing licensing guidelines for individuals with conditions affecting endocrine function). As a condition of licensure, an individual with diabetes may be required to submit information relating to: hypoglycemia; hyperglycemia; complications of his or her condition; his or her reliability in following a prescribed treatment program; weakness; fluid and electrolyte imbalance; mental changes; hypokalemia; and frequency of symptoms. Wis. Admin. Code Trans. § 112.08(2)(a)-(i) (2013). An individual applying for a driver's license "may not evidence any frequent or functionally impairing hypoglycemic reactions." Wis. Admin. Code Trans. § 112.08(3)(c) (2013). The licensing agency will not issue a license to any person that does evidence such hypoglycemic reactions. Wis. Admin. Code Trans. § 112.08(3)(a) (2013). Decisions in individual cases are based on physicians' recommendations. The licensing agency may require a person that has a progressive, recurring, or debilitating condition (such as diabetes) to submit to follow-up examinations and reports by a physician or vision specialist as a condition of licensure. Wis. Admin. Code Trans. § 112.17 (2013).

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

Yes. Wis. Admin. Code Trans. § 112.10 (2013) (providing licensing guidelines for individuals with conditions affecting neurological or neuromuscular function). As a condition of licensure, an individual subject to episodes of loss of consciousness may be required to submit information relating to: (1) episodes of altered consciousness or loss of bodily control and (2) degree of functional impairment, including the extent to which loss of muscle tone, range of motion, spasm, or fatigue affects functional ability. Wis. Admin. Code Trans. § 112.10(2)(a)-(b) (2013). An individual subject to episodes of loss of conscious must satisfy all of the following criteria in order to hold a license: 1) he or she may not have had an episode of altered consciousness or loss of bodily control caused by a neurological condition for the 3-month period preceding medical review by the licensing agency; 2) he or she adequately compensates for any paralysis or sensory deficit when operating a vehicle; 3) fatigue, weakness, muscle spasm, pain, or tremor at rest does not impair safe driving, as assessed by a physician or determined through a driving evaluation; and 4) there is no decline in cognition to an extent that interferes with safe driving. Wis. Admin. Code Trans. § 112.10(3)(c)(1)-(4) (2013). The licensing agency will not issue a license to any person that does not satisfy these criteria. Wis. Admin. Code Trans. § 112.10(3)(a) (2013). The provisions described above regarding (1) the information that the licensing agency may consider when making licensing determinations and (2) the information that, if contained in a medical report, bars an individual from obtaining a license apply equally to individuals subject to episodes of loss of consciousness. Wis. Admin. Code Trans. §§ 112.04, .045(1)-(5) (2013). Again, the licensing agency may require a person that has a progressive, recurring, or debilitating condition to submit to follow-up examinations and reports by a physician or vision specialist as a condition of licensure. Wis. Admin. Code Trans. § 112.17 (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 are no exceptions to the 3-month episode-free period as condition of licensure.

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

An individual whose license has been denied or canceled for medical reasons normally may request an appearance before a review board to obtain a review of the licensing action. Wis. Admin. Code Trans. § 112.20(1) (2013). However, no exceptions may be granted with respect to the minimum licensing standards for individuals subject to episodes of loss of consciousness. Wis. Admin. Code Trans. § 112.20(2) (2013). For other conditions, including diabetes, a review board may assess his or her medical history and may recommend that an exception be granted by the licensing agency if, in the medical opinion of the review board, the individual's medical condition does not impair his or her ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. Wis. Admin. Code Trans. § 112.20(2) (2013).

If an individual's license has been suspended because (1) he or she has violated a restriction on the license and (2) it is in the interests of public safety to suspend his or her license, Wis. Stat. § 343.34(1) (2013), then the licensing agency must afford the individual an opportunity for review of the licensing action "unless [it] is satisfied from the records and information in its possession that a hearing is not warranted." Wis. Stat. § 343.33(1) (2013). Upon receiving notice of a proposed suspension, an individual may submit a written request for a hearing, which the licensing agency must schedule not later than 20 days after receiving the request. Wis. Stat. § 343.33(1) (2011). Additionally, the denial or cancellation of a license or the revocation or suspension of an operating privilege is subject to judicial review. Wis. Stat. § 343.40 (2013).

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

Yes. When issuing a license, the licensing agency may, "whenever good cause appears, impose restrictions…appropriate to assure the safe operation of a motor vehicle by the licensee." Wis. Stat. § 343.13(1) (2013); Wis. Admin. Code Trans. § 112.16(1)(a)-(c) (2013) (authorizing the licensing agency to restrict individuals' driving privileges for medical reasons). If the licensing agency restricts an individual's driving privileges for medical reasons, the restrictions may be removed only by the medical professional that recommended them or by the licensing agency following its evaluation of the individual's ability to drive. Wis. Admin. Code Trans. § 112.16(4) (2013).

Is an identification card available for non-drivers?

Yes, with proper identification and payment of a fee. Wis. Stat. § 343.50(1) (2013); Wis. Admin. Code Trans. § 102.14(1) (2013); Wis. Admin. Code Trans. § 102.15 (2013) (specifying acceptable identifying documents). An $18.00 fee is required to obtain an identification card, Wis. Stat. § 343.50(5)(a)(1) (2013), except if the licensing agency has cancelled an individual's license following a special examination or if an individual voluntarily surrenders his or her license, in which cases no fee is required. Wis. Stat. § 343.50(5)(b)(2) (2013). Identification cards are valid for eight-year periods. Wis. Stat. § 343.50(5)(b)(1) (2013). Wis. Admin. Code Trans. § 102.18(1) (2013) (stating that identification cards are valid for four-year periods). An individual may not hold a driver's license and an identification card concurrently. Wis. Stat. § 343.50(2) (2013); Wis. Admin. Code Trans. § 102.14(2) (2013). Special identification cards also are available for individuals with disabilities that affect their ability to walk. Wis. Stat. § 343.51 (2013). For more information, see Wisconsin Department of Transportation, "Obtaining an identification (ID) card," (Accessed Sept. 2013).

Resources

Driver licensing in Wisconsin is administered by the Division of Motor Vehicles within the state Department of Transportation.