West Virginia

West Virginia

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 experienced a number of conditions, including seizure or loss of consciousness, any physical condition requiring special equipment to drive, and any visual or medical condition affecting his or her ability to drive safely. Any applicant who answers yes to this question must submit with his or her application a letter of explanation. West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles, "Application for a Driver's License or Photo ID Card," DMV-DS-23P (Rev. 12/2012); W. Va. Code § 17B-2-7(a) (2013) (generally authorizing licensing agency to conduct any necessary physical or mental examinations).

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 written reports of potentially unsafe drivers from police officers, the courts, physicians, family members, and hospitals. W. Va. Code R. § 91-5-9.2.a to .e (2013). Drivers may use a specific form to report unsafe drivers. West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles, "Medical Review Request," (Accessed Sept. 2013). The licensing agency does not accept anonymous reports and does not investigate reports before a driver is required to undergo the medical evaluation process. A report by a law enforcement officer, relative, officer of the court, or licensing agency staff will not lead to an immediate suspension until a medical or driving reexamination has been completed. W. Va. Code R. § 91-5-9.2.a (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. W. Va. Code § 17B-3-7 (2013) (authorizing the licensing agency to reexamine drivers when it has good cause to believe that they are incompetent to be licensed); W. Va. Code R. § 91-5-9.1 (2013) (same).

What is the process for medical evaluations of drivers?

When an applicant responds affirmatively to any of the medical questions on the license application, he or she must submit with his or her application a letter of explanation. Licensing agency personnel then will evaluate the letter to determine whether the individual may continue with the licensing process or whether he or she must undergo a medical evaluation. The licensing agency also will require a driver to undergo a medical evaluation if it receives a report about his or her driving safety from one of the sources listed above. W. Va. Code R. § 91-5-9.1, -9.2.a to .e (2013).

When a medical evaluation is required, the licensing agency provides the individual with a form that must be completed by his or her physician. The medical evaluation form has a section devoted to diabetes. West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles, "Medical Report Form," Form DLAB-1 (Rev. 02/2012). The form asks a physician to state the age of onset of diabetes, and whether the applicant takes insulin or oral medication. Additional questions require information on the number and dates of any "diabetic coma," or insulin reactions severe enough to impair judgment or ability to drive. Finally, the physician is asked if the applicant's diabetes is under adequate control. A physician also is generally asked whether the individual can operate a motor vehicle safely; what, if any, restrictions should be placed on his or her driver's license; and whether periodic follow-up medical examinations should be required. West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles, "Medical Report Form," Form DLAB-1 (Rev. 02/2012). Medical evaluation forms are returned to the licensing agency for review and licensing decisions. W. Va. Code R. § 91-5-9.4.a (2013). The driver is then given a vision test and an inquiry into any physical disability, including a personal interview by the driver examiner. W. Va. Code R. § 91-5-9.4.b (2013). Finally, the driver must re-take a written test and a driver clinic skills test. W. Va. Code R. § 91-5-9.4.c – d. (2013).

If the driver fails any of these tests, the agency will suspend or revoke his or her license, effective four days after the date of the suspension order. W. Va. Code R. § 91-5-9.5 (2013). Additionally, if an individual's license is cancelled or suspended because of a physical condition and he or she subsequently submits a satisfactory medical report, the licensing agency may require him or her to submit again to both written and skills tests prior to reinstatement. W. Va. Code R. § 91-5-9.9 (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.

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?

The licensing agency retains ultimate authority over all licensing decisions, and licensing agency personnel make all licensing decisions generally based on physician recommendations and state medical guidelines. W. Va. Code § 17B-3-1 (2013) (authorizing the licensing agency to cancel individuals' licenses); W. Va. Code § 17B-3-6 (2013) (authorizing the licensing agency to suspend or revoke individuals' licenses). If, after reviewing an individual's medical evaluation form, licensing agency staff cannot determine his or her ability to drive, or if multiple physicians deliver conflicting reports and further review is desired, the case may be referred to the state's independent Medical Advisory Board for a recommendation. W. Va. Code § 17B-2-7a (2013) (board will, on request, advise the licensing agency on mental or physical fitness of a driver).

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. W. Va. Code § 17B-2-7(a) (2013). 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. W. Va. Code R. § 91-5-9.1, -9.2.a to .e (2013). Furthermore, drivers also may be required to have medical evaluations if they have impairments that are observed by licensing agency personnel during the licensing process. W. Va. Code § 17B-3-7 (2013) (authorizing the licensing agency to reexamine drivers when it has good cause to believe that they are incompetent to be licensed); W. Va. Code R. § 91-5-9.1 (2013) (same).

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

No. West Virginia has adopted no specific medical guidelines related to any medical conditions, except for its vision standards. W. Va. Code § 17B-2-12a(b)(3), (e), (f), (g) (2013). However, a driver with diabetes may voluntarily request to have a special symbol placed on his or her license for a $5.00 fee; the driver must provide a doctor's certification that the patient has insulin-dependent diabetes. W. Va. Code §§ 17B-2-1(d), -6 (2013).

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

As stated above, West Virginia has adopted no specific medical guidelines related to any medical conditions, except for its vision standards. W. Va. Code § 17B-2-12a(b)(3), (e), (f), (g) (2013). There is no statutorily specified episode-free period. According to the Epilepsy Foundation and 2003 survey results, a person generally must be episode-free for a period of one year and have no other significant health problems in order to be eligible for a driver's license. If an individual has experienced an episode within the preceding 12 months, the Medical Advisory Board will review his or her medical records in order to determine the frequency and severity of any episodes and whether the individual should be licensed. Epilepsy Foundation, "Driving Laws by State," 2011 (Accessed Sept. 2013); TransAnalytics, LLC, "Summary of Medical Advisory Board Practices in the United States," June 18, 2003 (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?

According to the Epilepsy Foundation and 2003 survey results, an individual that has experienced an episode of loss of consciousness and wishes that his or her license be reinstated before the one-year episode-free period has elapsed may petition the Medical Advisory Board to review his or her case. The Medical Advisory Board will review his or her medical records in order to determine the frequency and severity of any episodes and whether the individual should be licensed. Epilepsy Foundation, "Driving Laws by State," 2011 (Accessed Sept. 2013); TransAnalytics, LLC, "Summary of Medical Advisory Board Practices in the United States," June 18, 2003 (Accessed Sept. 2013).

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

If an individual's license has been suspended, he or she may submit a written request for an administrative review of the decision, which must take place not later than 20 days after the licensing agency receives notice of the request and in the county where the individual resides. W. Va. Code § 17B-3-6(d) (2013). At the hearing, the aggrieved individual and the licensing agency may present evidence, and upon its conclusion, the licensing agency may affirm, rescind, or modify its order. W. Va. Code § 17B-3-6(d) (2013). Following an administrative hearing, an individual may seek judicial review of an adverse licensing decision by filing a petition in circuit court within 30 days of receiving notice of the order. W. Va. Code § 29A-5-4(a)-(b) (2013).

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

Yes. The licensing agency may issue a restricted license "whenever good cause appears to impose restrictions…appropriate to assure the safe operation of a motor vehicle by the licensee." W. Va. Code § 17B-2-10(a) (2013); W. Va. Code R. § 91-5-9.1 (2013) (authorizing the licensing agency to issue restricted licenses to individuals that are not medically qualified to operate motor vehicles).

Is an identification card available for non-drivers?

Yes, the licensing agency may issue identification cards to anyone 16 years of age or older with proper identification and proof of residency. W. Va. Code § 17B-2-1(f)(1)-(3) (2013) (providing for the issuance of identification cards); W. Va. Code R. § 91-4-10 (2013) (requiring proof of residency to obtain an identification card); W. Va. Code R. § 91-4-11 (2013) (specifying acceptable identifying documents for obtaining an identification card); W. Va. Code R. § 91-4-15.2 (2013) (providing for the issuance of identification cards to person 16 years of age or older). An individual may not hold a driver's license and an identification card concurrently. W. Va. Code R. § 91-4-15.2.a, -15.3 (2013). Unless an individual is 65 years of age or older or is legally blind, a fee of $2.50 per year is required to obtain an identification card. W. Va. Code § 17B-2-1(f)(1)(C) (2013). For an individual that is 21 years of age or older, 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. W. Va. Code § 17B-2-1(f)(2)(A) (2013). The licensing agency may issue identification cards to individuals whose licenses have been refused, cancelled, suspended, or revoked. W. Va. Code § 17B-2-1(f)(3) (2013).

Resources

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