Once someone has been diagnosed as having Alzheimer’s disease or any other form of dementia, California State Law requires that his/her physician notify the Department of Health. The Department of Health then notifies the DMV, and the person with dementia will be sent a medical questionnaire his/her doctor must complete. With this information, and possibly driving or written test, the DMV will decide whether he/she may continue to drive. At times, this may mean that he/she can no longer drive.
Losing one’s driving privilege can be a great hardship, but it is important to recognize that it is imperative that the person with dementia stop driving if the DMV says he/she must. If a person with dementia forgets or refuses to stop driving, methods to prevent access to the car include: Hiding the car keys, removing the car battery, selling the car, or moving it out of sight.
As Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia progresses, there will be visual-spatial changes, disorientation, changes in motor coordination, and decreased judgment and concentration. It will become increasingly difficult for the person to remember to drive at the correct speed, to use turn signals and mirrors, and to stop or go as the lights change. In emergencies that require a quick response (such as someone stopping too quickly), it is usually impossible to react in time. Failure to stop driving can cost his/her life and possibly the lives of others. It also opens the person with dementia up to enormous legal and financial liability. There are numerous transportation options available in the greater Sacramento area
The DMV (driver safety officer) is responsible to determine if the patient is safe to drive.
Here is the procedure to obtain an evaluation from the DMV office for license reinstatement or testing.
Submit all forms to be completed by your provider to Release of Medical Information:
ROMI dept NVLYROI@kp.org | 916-746-3646
You may also obtain the license reinstatement form from the DMV office in person, and submit the form to the member service after you have filled out the part of your personal information.
Is It Time to Give Up Driving?
We all age differently. For this reason, there is no way to set one age when everyone should stop driving. So, how do you know if you should stop? To help decide, ask yourself:
- Do other drivers often honk at me?
- Have I had some accidents, even if they were only “fender benders”?
- Do I get lost, even on roads I know?
- Do cars or people walking seem to appear out of nowhere?
- Do I get distracted while driving?
- Have family, friends, or my doctor said they’re worried about my driving?
- Am I driving less these days because I’m not as sure about my driving as I used to be?
- Do I have trouble staying in my lane?
- Do I have trouble moving my foot between the gas and the brake pedals, or do I sometimes confuse the two?
- Have I been pulled over by a police officer about my driving?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it may be time to talk with your doctor about driving or have a driving assessment.
DMV has a form (DS 699, Request for Driver Re-examination (ca.gov)) and a process by which family members can ask DMV to re-examine the patient for safe driving, without the need of a medical evaluation or health care professional.