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  • Julie-R


    I've seen a fair number of discussions where folks puzzle whether they should drive or not.  I have the opposite problem.  My MS is long-term, stable R/R.  I'm mobile, but not super-coordinated in the AM;  I can drive fine in the PM's (while in remission.)  So for decades, I've worked a PM job that involves some rural driving, and I have reasonable accommodations that include no scheduled driving before noon--although I can often drive safely by 10 AM, I don't want to stress or push myself to do something unsafe.  I also avoid too-hot temps and radical temp shifts, but that's for all activities, not just driving, because I get painful paresthesia.  I haven't touched alcohol in over a decade, never drank much, and never drove after drinking any alcohol. 

    I have always declared my condition to the DMV, noting "self-policing, no sudden onset of impairing symptoms."  I pose no "direct threat" as defined under the ADA, and the CA DMV's own research shows that those of us who have moderate disabilities and self-restrict actually have fewer accidents than the general populace (which, of course, includes all those young guys who are actually the worst risk.)

    I was dx'ed in Oregon in 1983; no problem with their DMV even though I got a temporary parking placard during an early attack which did affect my legs/mobility.  Dut to obtaining that placard, I began declaring my MS, including when I returned to CA long-term in 1987.  For a few years in the early 1990's, I did have a "medical probation" on my drivers license, but got it lifted when my neuro confirmed that I hadn't had any attacks in three years.  Then routine drivers license renewals for 25 years...I did have a temporary condition (differentiation of systemic rheumatoid disease) four years ago which stopped almost all my driving for a bit over six months; however, I began taking low dose naltrexone, which put it into 95% remission over the course of approx four months, and may have even helped my MS a little bit, too!   No lasting pain or effect on my driving, and according to DMV regs, that kind of issue doesn't need to be reported.

    Suddenly, last year, at my renewal, the CA DMV wanted doctors' forms, a "hearing", and then a driving test.  I went through the process.  The result: my license was reissued with only my usual "corrective lenses" restriction.  However, another result, of which I was not informed until I called six months later to try to get my "report", was annual reexam!  I also must report if my condition worsens.

    I have no moving violations, and no at-fault road accidents, in 45 years of driving.  I strictly self-police.  The DMV won't tell me what their specific concern is--"it must have been something you said during your hearing."  My hearing was over the phone as RA, as the Safety Division is in a too-hot town in the summer where I never go for at least six months a year.  My hearing officer wasn't happy ("people lie about their capabilities")...probably why I had to do the driving test, too.

    I offered to come to the Safety Division earlier in the year.  Their response: no, we won't review your file until your anniversary date.  Then we'll decide whether you must come here for your hearing!  They said if I don't show up for any of these appointments, that I will lose my license. (But don't worry; you can appeal to Sacramento!)  And that if I do pass everything again, that I could still have to do annual reexam next year, indefinitely.

    I'm already having issues at work concerning taking leave as a RA.  Taking more for this is a real problem.  And losing my license, even temporarily, will greatly impact my work, and could get me fired. I've worked at, loved, and performed very well at this job for 30+ years, and have no plans to leave it soon.

    Apparently the CA DMV has more citizen complaints than any other CA state agency.  I am not surprised.

    I called an MS navigator; I was told to reach out in this forum, as there is no specific advocacy program for drivers license discrimination/harassment.  Has anyone else had this experience with a DMV?  I know there was a lawsuit in NC a while back, concerning folks with multiple disabilities.  I am not a person who sits back and acts the victim.  Please contact me if you've had a similar experience.

    Thanks in advance,


  • maria1
    Attitude plays a role in how people perceive us, self confidence is important. Hesitation and self doubt are like worry, a misuse of imagination, giggle. 

    Visualization is a tool many of us use, see yourself succeeding.

    If you have an inperson appointment, while you are in your car, tighten yourself up into a frenzy then relax, shake out the fear. Do the same if you ahve a phone appointment.

    Most of all remember: YOU WANT TO WIN!!!
  • Ant
    Wow, unbelievable! If I were you I would contact an attorney. It sounds to me like your civil rights are being violated. I got my permanent handicap placard last year but my DL don't expire for a few years. I feel for you and hope I don't have to go through the same. I live in KS. Please update is on how things go. 
  • echobird
    You know funny thing is that I tried to start a thread about this subject within the last year because I have had good days and then really bad days where once pushed to far or overdoing things or just stressed out I've had issues with driving and I have policed myself but don't just let them poll your license if you are still capable of driving. When you have ma you can tell what's happening with yourself but that dude that has a brain aneurysm and doesn't know it may just be the one to cause an accident. But you can ask your Dr if they think it's safe for you to drive.
  • maria1
    And f you are willing to take the risk there is a psych evaluation for your abilities. When I went through it I learned that i have slow reflexes and veer to the left, so I no longer drive except in dire emergencies and hope i dont get in to an accident. 
  • MS_Navigators
    Hello Julie,

    I am including some information that I hope will be helpful regarding your issue with the DMV. In general, driving is considered a privilege, and therefore is not mandated for people with disabilities.  In addition, state law often includes legislation that addresses the restriction of driving privileges as a result of safety concerns caused by some impairments or conditions.  These laws vary from state to state, but may require medical professionals to report their patients if they are concerned about the patient’s ability to drive, and may allow state departments of motor vehicles to require medical assessments prior to the issuance or renewal of a driver’s license. 
    Having said that, state and local government programs and services are not allowed to discriminate again people with disabilities under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act  (ADA).  If you feel you were discriminated against, you may have the right to file a complaint.  In order to determine whether you experienced discrimination or whether the department is following state legislation and safety protocols, you may want to contact your state government for information about legislation regarding the issuance, revocation, and renewal of driver’s licenses, and your regional ADA center for information about Title II of the ADA. You can speak to someone at your regional ADA center by calling 1-800-949-4232.
    This link is to information on the Epilepsy Foundation’s website.  Please note that the information is written with epilepsy in mind.  However, you may find it useful as it lists the state legislation that addresses medical conditions in relation to driver’s licenses in case you would like to reference that legislation when you contact your state government office for verification.  Your local department of motor vehicles may also be able to provide you with details about this legislation: Epilepsy Foundation Driver Information by State

    Stephanie, MS Navigator
  • Julie-R
    Update: Last year, my GP filled out the DMV form; she stated that I didn't need to re-certify every year.  It made no difference.  I again had a phone hearing due to my employer being tight with my leave.  The call was very short.  I asked if other folks with MS had to be tested every year; my examiner huffily stated, "we're not going there."  I then said I knew people who checked "no" for having a condition that affected their ability to drive because, like me, there was no sudden onset of impairing symptoms, and that's what I wanted to do.  This then labeled me, apparently, as suspect.  I was told (again) that people lie; I had been told that I must be interviewed in person, so I better show up next year.  They might consider moving the hearing up a month.  I was told if I am interviewed in person, maybe I won't need a driving test, and maybe they will extend the time between recerts to two years.  I was told I should be happy with either outcome.   You will not be surprised that, shortly after, I received a notice that I must take a driving test.  I did (again,) and passed (again.) The examiner wrote a note that I didn't need annual driving tests.  It made no difference; I received a letter that I again would have to re-certify fully in 2020.  However, the hearing could be in April.  So that is status.

    I just withdrew an EEO Complaint that I filed 2.5 years ago over an unpaid leave dispute with my employer, the federal gov't.  We have an insane informal, then formal, complaint process, then I elected an EEOC.  I did this all pro se, just Union help.  I withdrew because of the burdensome and out-of-proportion legal maneuvers required, the impact on my life/work/health, the additional years it would take to navigate this process.  I'll be fighting this issue in other ways.  I want nothing more to do with the EEOC, for this job dispute or my drivers license.

    Instead, I am trying to get help through my state senator's office.  I'll write another update when I know more.

    I'd like to hear from anyone is California who is having this issue.