HOW A BRAIN PROBLEM CAN BECOME A DRIVING PROBLEM
Before I provide the discussion for today’s blog entry I first need to provide a backdrop. To set the scene, there has been a solo vehicle car accident in Studio City, California. The police arrive on the scene and observe the driver unconscious behind the wheel. The officer calls an ambulance to the scene and follows the ambulance to the hospital. The driver regains consciousness and begins answering questions posed by the officer. The officer’s questions focused on the driver’s health and whether the driver consumed any intoxicating substances. The answers to these questions, however, can have a variety of consequences to the driver’s ability to drive. Below I have provided different answers to the questions and the exposure the driver has to losing his license based on such answer.
In the first scenario, we’ll call it Scenario A, the driver tells the officer that he absolutely had no intoxicating substances and fell asleep at the wheel due to a grueling work schedule. The driver submits to a blood test confirming that he ingested no intoxicating substances. The driver is likely facing charges of reckless driving and may receive points on his driving record. His chances of any impact on his driving record are not strong absent additional facts.
In Scenario B, the driver tells the officer that he has no medical conditions but consumed several mixed drinks which caused him to fall asleep at the wheel. He provides a blood sample which indicates that he is above the legal limit of .08. He is subsequently charged with his first DUI related offense. He faces losing his license for a period of 30 days to 6 months absent additional facts.
He will be eligible for a restricted license for a period of 5 months.
In Scenario C, the driver tells the officer that he has no medical conditions that he is aware of and consumed no intoxicating substances. He further states that he thinks that he blacked out behind the wheel. He submits to blood testing which shows that he had not ingested any intoxicating substances. The police officer does not recommend any charges be filed against the driver. But, he does refer the driver to the DMV for a Reexamination Hearing which can result in an indefinite suspension of the driver’s license.
In analyzing the above three scenarios it appears that both drivers in Scenarios A and B demonstrated some lack of responsibility.
However, it appears that the least culpable driver will suffer the most severe consequences. The reason for this disparity is public safety. Both behaviors by the drivers in Scenarios A and B can either be corrected by getting proper sleep or not ingesting any intoxicating substances at or before the time of driving. However, if a person like the driver in Scenario C has a previously undiagnosed medical condition that causes him to have a “lapse of consciousness” (ex. stroke, seizure), then the DMV will perform an investigation to determine whether there is a medical condition that causes Lapse of Consciousness and if it can be treated. If there is such a condition that cannot be treated, then the driver in Scenario C will never get his license reinstated. However, if there is a condition that can be treated and controlled or it is shown that there is no such condition; the driver’s license would be reinstated at a future date.