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OPINION| DRIVETIME MAHATMA: When it’s time to hand over the keys to the car

by Steve Goff | December 17, 2022 at 4:47 a.m.

Dear Mahatma: I recently had a friend who had a seizure and was informed by his neurologist at the hospital that he couldn't drive for a year. Is this a state law and, if so, how is it enforced? -- Alicia

Dear Alicia: We've written about this matter here but way back. It's a topic that comes up not too often.

Let's first look at Arkansas Code Annotated 27-16-604. It says a license may not be issued to any driver "who has previously been adjudged to be afflicted with or suffering from any mental disability or disease and who has not at the time of application been restored to competency by the methods provided by law."

A Department of Finance and Administration document further says if the Office of Driver Services has suspended a license, it may require that person to submit to a medical examination. The medical report will then be evaluated to determine if the license may be reinstated.

The agency may also require the person to successfully pass all phases of the State Driver's License Examination.

How is all this enforced? We asked DF&A if physicians are legally required to report seizures suffered by drivers under their care.

They are not, spokesman Scott Hardin said, adding the agency relies on family members, friends, neighbors and physicians to report drivers whose privileges should be suspended until they recover.

These responsible reporting people would complete an evaluation form regarding the driver, and DF&A would then call in the driver for a meeting. The driver would be told he needed to see a physician, and if the physician recommended a suspension, it would be for a year.

After the suspension, Hardin said, the matter goes to law enforcement, which would know of a suspension if there were a traffic stop.

We recommend a visit to the website of the Arkansas Epilepsy Foundation for a thorough explanation.

This made us think about a related matter that also comes up from time to time. What about old folks who still drive? When should they stop?

AARP shares some warning signs about older drivers.

Do they:

• Consistently drive too slow or too fast?

• Get lost on familiar roads?

• Have trouble parking or turning left?

• Get ticketed for driving violations?

• Run red lights or stop signs?

• Show up with new dents or scratches?

May we add one more thing? The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says older drivers, past 70, are less likely to survive severe crashes because they may be physically fragile. They also tend to drive outdated vehicles without the newest safety features.

We now have a 2020 SUV with an astonishing array of safety features, such as cruise control that keeps the vehicle a safe distance from the vehicle in front of it.

The best safety feature? Pedestrian detection. It hasn't yet, but someday could, save a life.

Vanity plate: OOHLALA.

Print Headline: If seizures strike, law says park it x If seizures strike, state needs alert


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