Many people aren’t aware, but certain health conditions can keep you from driving. Some health problems prevent you from driving safely. You put yourself and other drivers at risk. These conditions can cause you to lose your driver’s license temporarily or permanently.
Some health problems prevent you from driving safely and put other drivers at risk.
Health conditions can result in a temporary suspension lasting six to 48 months. Some suspensions are permanent.
Medical providers are legally required to report at-risk drivers to the state’s licensing authority.
These health problems can cause severe injury or death if something happens behind the wheel.
Understanding your health and the disease is the first step to preventing a problem and potentially losing your license.
What are the driving restrictions?
Driving restrictions can vary from state to state. But certain health conditions can get in the way of driving anywhere. Depending on your location, a temporary suspension of your license can be six to 48 months. In some cases, a permanent suspension is necessary. Medical providers are legally required to report at-risk drivers to the state’s licensing authority.
What health conditions cause driving restrictions?
Many health conditions can cause driving restrictions. As health problems progress, the symptoms can worsen making driving more difficult. But this may not require you to stop driving right away. It may make stopping your choice.
The following health problems can cause severe injury or death if symptoms happen behind the wheel.
Epilepsy, or seizure disorder, is one of the most common medical reasons people have their license suspended. Seizures cause abnormal brain activity. As a result, they can't control the body and there is typically a loss of consciousness. Symptoms can vary a lot in people who have seizures. This is particularly a problem if seizures occur without warning. Suspensions can be six months to one year, provided you remain seizure-free for that period.
Stroke or other neurological conditions
A stroke can affect the way the body functions. Strokes block blood flow in the brain, which in some cases, can leave areas of the body paralyzed. Sometimes these symptoms resolve, but other times they do not. It can also cause slowed reaction times in the brain and visual responses. This can alter driving abilities.
Other neurological conditions can affect the brain and nervous system. This slows the body and response times. Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia/Alzheimer's disease can cause delayed movements, slowed reaction times, poor judgment, altered memory, and confusion.
Loss of consciousness
Passing out, syncope, or fainting is quite common. When these episodes occur for no known reason, they need reporting. This may result in the suspension of your license.
Dizziness or a spinning sensation known as vertigo can cause you to feel disoriented. It can happen without warning and the sensation can feel as if your vision is altered too. This causes unsafe driving conditions.
Diabetes can be tricky. If blood sugars drop too low, causing symptoms of hypoglycemia, it can be very dangerous while driving. Symptoms include altered mental status, confusion, dizziness, or even unresponsiveness.
The opposite can also occur. Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, can have similar symptoms if uncontrolled. Either could be dangerous behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.
Vision loss can happen at any time in your life due to injury or disease. Vision changes can prevent safe driving at dusk, night, or in general. Eye disorders like glaucoma, macular degeneration, and cataract can cause vision loss.
Loss of mobility
Joint pain or arthritis can impair driving. This could cause disability and suspension of driving privileges. In some cases, amputation or loss of limbs can also prevent proper driving. Though adaptations are available, these are often temporary.
Heart problems like a heart attack or angina can be potential reasons for limitations. A recent heart attack could cause lightheadedness, fainting, or chest pain, putting the driver in danger. Angina can cause sudden pain in the chest, neck, back, or jaw that can distract a driver and mimic a heart attack. Both can be frightening.
Sleep issues like obstructive sleep apnea or narcolepsy can cause issues with driving. These disorders can cause excessive daytime sleepiness and falling asleep behind the wheel.
Medications like pain medicines can cause altered mental states and affect driving. These should not be taken when driving. Discuss your medications and their limitations with your healthcare provider or pharmacist.
Substances like marijuana, street drugs, and alcohol alter your ability to drive. These should not be used anytime you might need to drive. The recent legalization of marijuana in some states does not permit driving under the influence.
Can I prevent losing my license if I have these conditions?
The answers vary. Some of these conditions can be controlled with medications if taken as directed. The first step to preventing a problem is understanding the disease. This can help you prevent losing your license. But some of these problems like fainting may come without warning. A healthy lifestyle including proper nutrition, daily exercise, and adequate sleep can also help.
Several health conditions can stop you from driving. Some can cause short suspensions others may result in a permanent loss of your license. It's important to understand your health conditions and how to take care of yourself. Knowing when it is safe to drive is also important. Everyone’s safety is at risk when your drive.