Medical Condition License Suspensions

by Adam Rosenblum

NY VTL 510-3 says that the Department of Motor Vehicles can suspend a driver’s license “because of some physical or mental disability of the holder…”  This means that if DMV becomes aware that a person has a medical condition that might cause a person to pass out or fall asleep while driving (such as epilepsy, narcolepsy, diabetes, etc.), they have the right to issue a driver’s license suspension.

The problem is that this kind of suspension is considered an indefinite suspension, rendering the person ineligible for a conditional or restricted license.  Unlike a person who may be suspended for a technical reason, it makes sense that a person who is suspended from driving because he might pose a danger while on the road should not be given a limited use license.

If you disagree with DMV’s decision you can ask for a hearing or participate in DMV’s Medical Review Program (see below).

Frequently Asked Questions About Suspension For A Medical Reason in New York

How do I know when I am suspended for a medical reason?

DMV will notify you by letter giving you a specific date your driver’s license suspension will go into effect.  That is the date you must stop driving.

Why am I being suspended if my doctor says I can drive?

DMV hires independent, board certified doctors to make supposedly independent recommendations to the Department of Motor Vehicles as to whether a person who has a medical episode while driving can continue to drive.  DMV says that the doctors they hire “follow nationally established medical standards for highway safety. Therefore, in cases where there is disagreement, DMV accepts our consultant’s recommendation over the recommendation of your doctor.” This of course is very controversial for two reasons: (a) it is impossible for them to state categorically that their consultant is more of an expert in this field than your treating physician who may be just as familiar with “nationally established medical standards for highway safety”; (b) a treating physician knows his patient much better than a DMV consultant who in most cases does not even meet the subject in person.  Regardless, this is DMV’s approach for the better or for the worse.

Is there anything that can be done if I am suspended for a medical reason?

Under certain circumstances, a person may qualify for the Medical Review Program of the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles which was designed to help people who have an episode where they lose awareness, body control or consciousness continue to drive under medical supervision.

You will be sent a letter, usually six months after your last medical episode while driving.  The suspension may be lifted when your doctor completes an examination on or after the recommended reinstatement date found in letter.  A Physician’s Statement for Medical Review Unit (form MV-80U.1) will accompany the letter.  Your doctor should fill out this form after the examination and return It to the Medical Review Unit at the address listed in the letter.

If I disagree with DMV’s decision do I have a right to a hearing?

Yes, you can request a hearing. If you decide to request a hearing, you must do all of the following:

  • Notify the Medical Review Unit in writing within 30 days from the date of the suspension notice. DMV will not agree to a hearing if the request was received more than 30 days after the date of notice. A hearing will be scheduled with 30 days after receiving your written request.
  • Be in Albany on the date and time of the hearing.
  • Provide a list witnesses, if any, who will appear on your behalf. This list must be provided at least five business days before the hearing. Once again, no new medical documentation will be considered the hearing.

Am I eligible for any type of hardship license which would give me limited driving privileges during the suspension period such as to allow me to drive to and from work, school and medical appointments?

No. You are not eligible for such a license because your medical condition could make driving hazardous for you and others.

Can I have an attorney represent me at the DMV hearing?

Yes. The Rosenblum Law Firm, with offices in Albany, has represented many individuals at suspension hearings in Albany before DMV.  There are many reasons DMV can suspend a driver’s license. Read more here.

For help with a suspended New York license or license restoration call us now at
1-888-883-5529, or send us an e-mail about your case.