Tuesday, September 02, 2014
Saturday, August 01, 2009 tesstt, Community Member, asks

Q: Suspended license

The CA DMV wants to suspend my license because of my migraines.  I haven't had any tickets or accidents.  My doctor wrote a letter and said I am ok to drive most of the time.  I don't drive when I have a migraine.  I'm in too much pain!

Is there any advice you can give me on how to fight for my right to drive?

 

Thank you

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Answers (6)
Teri Robert, Health Guide
8/ 1/09 11:09pm

tesstt

 

Could you give us a bit of background, please? How does the DMV even know about your Migraines? What brought them to their attention and made them suspend your license?

 

Thanks,

Teri

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tesstt, Community Member
8/ 2/09 12:28am

My son got a wet and reckless and the DMV suspended his license for one year.  When he put in for a critical need restricted license so he could drive to work the DMV said no that since I was at home I should drive him.  I explained to them that I couldn't be responsible for driving him all of the time because of my migraines.  They granted him his restricted license but then sent me a re-examination notice.  I had my doctor fill it out and she said I am ok to drive most of the time and and that I am aware of when not to drive. I've never had a ticket and my last accident was seven years ago and I wasn't at fault.  My license isn't suspened yet but just by talking to them on the phone I have a feeling it is heading it that direction.  I just wanted to know if anyone else has had to deal with the DMV.  What should I do?  Thanks for responding Teri.

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Teri Robert, Health Guide
8/ 2/09 9:56am

Thanks for the additional info. I'm going to ask Megan to come see what information she might be able to offer you since she's an attorney. I don't think they can suspend your license, but Megan would know better than I.

 

Hang in there,

Teri

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tesstt, Community Member
8/ 2/09 4:40pm

Thanks Terri,  I appreciate any help or information you can give me.

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Megan Oltman, Community Member
8/ 2/09 9:39pm

Hi Tess -

 

I am not very familiar with California motor vehicle law but this is the first I've heard of a license being suspended for Migraines in any state - I will need to do some reasearch and get back to you.

 

- Megan

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tesstt, Community Member
8/ 3/09 1:31pm

Thank you Megan.  I appreciate your help.

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Megan Oltman, Community Member
8/ 4/09 4:58pm

Hi Tess -

 

Unfortunately, I looked at the California Motor Vehicle Code and it is very broadly worded so that they can suspend a license if in their judgment a person is "unable to safely operate a motor vehicle upon a highway." CA Veh. Code Sec. 12805. They have the right to re-examine at any time if they receive "evidence of a condition that may affect the ability... to safely operate a motor vehicle." CA Veh. Code Sec. 12814.

 

I would strongly advise you to consult an attorney at this point - someone who has experience with license suspensions. You need evidence that you will not be impaired in your driving - documentation from your doctor is probably the right way to go but I would talk to an attorney about how you should be asking your doctor to word it.  

 

The other relevant section of the Motor Vehicle Code is CA Veh. Code Sec. 12806(c) which says that the department may refuse a license to a person: "Who... has any physical or mental disability, disease or disorder which could affect the safe operation of a motor vehicle unless the department has medical information which indicates the person may safely operate a motor vehicle."  You will want your medical information to convince them of that.

 

I reached out to a California attorney to see if he can provide any additional suggestions for you. I wish I had an easy answer for you.  Please let us know how you make out - this is an issue of importance to all of us!

 

Good luck Tess!

 

- Megan

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tesstt, Community Member
8/ 4/09 5:11pm

Thank you Megan.  I am really frustrated that this is happening to me.  So many people have migraines or chronic pain situations and they can drive.  This is only happening because I was trying to explain to the DMV why I couldn't drive my son to work all of the time.  I don't know if I can afford an attorney.  I don't work.

Thanks again-Tess

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Megan Oltman, Community Member
8/ 4/09 8:25pm

Tess it really is very unfair that in explaining why you can't drive your son the DMV would bring this down on you. I agree with you, there are scores of people with chronic pain conditions, Migraine, and all kinds of similar medical issues - if they start taking away licenses in all of those situations, there will be few people left driving!

 

Don't be afraid to look into getting help from an attorney. First of all, a brief consultation to find our what your rights and options are should not cost much. Some attorneys give a free or low-cost initial consultation. Calling and inquiring won't cost you anything. Also there are legal aid and legal assitance programs, and the state bar association should be able to help you with a referral and let you know about what lower cost options may be available.

 

- Megan

Reply
Hilary, Community Member
8/25/09 3:08am

HI TESS!

I live in another state (Utah) but have myself gone through almost this exact same situation. I have Multiple Sclerosis and Migraine. At the time they flagged my license for question I had nothing on my record in 6 years and never anything either with drugs or alcohol. My health issues were severe due to the pain I suffer but like you when I was or am in the high pain the last thing I would do would be drive. Let alone even put clothes on to go somewhere! I was self restricting with common sense never to drive with a headache as it was beyond my interest let alone ability. If I found myself in the situation of sudden onset of symptoms I always pulled over and called a family member or friend to come get me. However it took me about 3 years of going through the motions with the Utah DMV to go over periodic reviews of my driving privileges and medications and current medical history via forms from my Drs. to have my license "unflagged".

They wanted to know things like what combo of drugs I was on and what Neurological effects my disabilities had on my driving, basicly because of being on more than a certain number of meds and having a number of symptoms checked, I had to be monitored for some time. I guess in Utah for each symptom and med it counts as a check and for each check you have past a certain amount you must be flagged as a medical alert status (or whatever they call it)

I wanted to respond to this so you know your not the only one out there. I know how frustrating it is. It does get easier. I would follow Megan's advice for sure, I am sure there are things you can do to make it even easier. But just know, you at least are not the only one :)

 

Be well, and keep smiling. Hilary

 

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Hilary, Community Member
8/25/09 3:09am

HI TESS!

I live in another state (Utah) but have myself gone through almost this exact same situation. I have Multiple Sclerosis and Migraine. At the time they flagged my license for question I had nothing on my record in 6 years and never anything either with drugs or alcohol. My health issues were severe due to the pain I suffer but like you when I was or am in the high pain the last thing I would do would be drive. Let alone even put clothes on to go somewhere! I was self restricting with common sense never to drive with a headache as it was beyond my interest let alone ability. If I found myself in the situation of sudden onset of symptoms I always pulled over and called a family member or friend to come get me. However it took me about 3 years of going through the motions with the Utah DMV to go over periodic reviews of my driving privileges and medications and current medical history via forms from my Drs. to have my license "unflagged".

They wanted to know things like what combo of drugs I was on and what Neurological effects my disabilities had on my driving, basicly because of being on more than a certain number of meds and having a number of symptoms checked, I had to be monitored for some time. I guess in Utah for each symptom and med it counts as a check and for each check you have past a certain amount you must be flagged as a medical alert status (or whatever they call it)

I wanted to respond to this so you know your not the only one out there. I know how frustrating it is. It does get easier. I would follow Megan's advice for sure, I am sure there are things you can do to make it even easier. But just know, you at least are not the only one :)

 

Be well, and keep smiling. Hilary

 

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Megan Oltman, Community Member
8/28/09 7:28pm

I think this is such an important issue I am researching and writinga sharepost on it, which should be up shortly. Laws and procedures will vary from state to state, but we need to be aware that we have a condition that can be "flagged" as Hillary stated.

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tesstt, Community Member
8/29/09 5:09pm

I want to thank everyone for their support.  I was really freaking out about the DMV.  I had to go to an interview.  The Safety Officer said everything from my doctor's report to my interview was positive, but I would need to take the behind the wheel drive test.  This really stressed me out.  I took it yesterday and I passed.  Hopefully this is all behind me.  I wish there was something I could do to keep this from happening to someone in the future.  Just because a person has migraines they shouldn't be put throught this type of scrutiny.  I could understand if I had been in accidents or had tickets, but I didn't.

 

Thanks again,

Tess

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By tesstt, Community Member— Last Modified: 06/20/13, First Published: 08/01/09