Are People With Epilepsy Legally Allowed to Drive?
It depends on the state. Some states prohibit anyone with a history of seizures to operate a moving vehicle, while other states are more liberal, placing fewer restrictions on the infirm.
Naturally, laws are created to protect public safety. They grant the privilege of driving to people who can handle the responsibility and who are least likely to cause harm to anyone - including themselves. A few key points:
- Studies have shown that yes, people with epilepsy have a higher-than-average crash rate.
- Many states allow people with epilepsy to drive, as long as their seizures are infrequent (normally 6 months to a year between seizures).
- Not all driver's license applicants admit they have a history of seizures while filling out their DMV paperwork.
- Sometimes, a state will ask for the patient's doctor to write a recommendation about the person's ability to drive.
What Are the Epilepsy and Driving Laws in Texas?
For typical passenger vehicles, people with epilepsy (or similar medical condition) are allowed to drive, as long as they meet the following conditions:
- The driver must be currently under a doctor's care. The doctor should watch their patient's condition and ability to drive.
- The driver must have not had a seizure in the three months prior to the license application.
- The applicant's doctor must give specific orders on what medicine the applicant should be taking and seizure-inducing activities to avoid.
Essentially, if a patient has their doctor's blessing, they haven't had a recent seizure, and their seizures are controlled with medication, then they're allowed to drive in Texas.
What Are the Epilepsy and Commercial Driving Laws in Texas?
In order to drive a commercial vehicle (think 18-wheelers), you must obtain a Commercial Driver's License (CDL). People with a history of epilepsy are prohibited from getting a CDL, even if their seizures are controlled with medication.
Can a Doctor Be Held Liable If Their Patient Has a Seizure In Texas?
No. Some could argue that if a doctor clears an epileptic patient to drive, and that patient crashes from a seizure, then the doctor should be held responsible. However, this isn't the case. Doctors who make recommendations concerning their patients cannot be held liable for those opinions.
Can an Epileptic Driver Be Blamed for an Accident?
This is the big question, and there's no straight answer. Take, for instance, this 2012 case where an epileptic driver had a seizure while driving, crashed and killed someone. He was found not guilty by the State Supreme Court, even though he was driving against his doctor's wishes. His lawyer argued that it wasn't the patient's fault that he has seizures, nor was it his fault that the state allowed people with epilepsy to drive.
This is just one example of hundreds of people who have been "accused" of driving with epilepsy, and the bottom line is this: each car accident must be looked at on a case by case basis.