Epilepsy & Travel
Connecticut Driver Licensing Laws
Seizure-Free Period No set seizure-free period
Periodic Medical Updates Required After Licensing At discretion of DMV
Doctors Required to Report Epilepsy No
DMV Appeal of License Denial Yes
When the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has knowledge that an individual has experienced an episode involving altered consciousness or loss of bodily control, prior to licensing action, whether issuance of a new license or retention of current license, the DMV requests the individual to file specific medical forms. [CONN. GEN. STAT. § 14-45a-6 (a) (2008)]. The commissioner then reviews the medical forms. [§ 14-45a-6 (b)]. If a person has experienced an episode in the preceding six months, the commissioner must, request the opinion of the Medical Advisory Board (MAB). [§ 14-45a-6 (c)]. Each case is reviewed individually; therefore, any decision regarding initiation of withdrawal action, whether for a period of 3 months from the date of the most recent episode, or 6 months or for a greater period of time, or requiring a person to file medical reports at certain intervals for a specific period of time, would be based on the person's specific medical condition.
The MAB may, regarding any medical condition, consider the following information: the history of the condition, the severity of the symptoms and prognosis, complications and/or co-morbid conditions, treatment and medications, effects and side effects, and the individual's knowledge and use of medications, the degree of functional impairment, including the extent to which loss of muscle tone affects functional ability, the extent to which loss of muscle movement affects functional ability, the extent to which muscle spasm affects functional ability, the basic driving needs of the person, including the distance from the applicant's home to the person's doctor, place of employment, shopping districts or other necessary locations [CONN. AGENCIES REGS §§ 14-45a-8(a)(1-2), 14-45a-8(g)(1)(2008)].
No civil action may be brought against the commissioner, the department or any of its employees, the board or any of its members or any physician for providing any reports, records, examinations, opinions or recommendations pursuant to §§ 14-46(a) to 14-46(g), inclusive, of the Connecticut General Statutes [CONN. GEN. STAT. § 14-46(f)(2008)]. Any persons acting in good faith without negligence or malicious intent in making any report to the commissioner or board pursuant to §§ 14-46(a) to 14-46(g), inclusive, of the Connecticut General Statutes, shall be immune from civil liability. [CONN. GEN. STAT. § 14-46(f)(2008)].
A license may be withdrawn when a person has had an unfavorable medical report submitted on his or her behalf. [§ 14-45a-6(d)]. A person whose license has been withdrawn, suspended or denied under the provisions §§ 14-46(a) to 14-46(f), inclusive of the Connecticut General Statures, has the right to appeal under Chapter 54, or the person may request, in writing, an administrative hearing. [§ 14-46(g)]
A person who operates a commercial vehicle and must hold a commercial driver's license (CDL) is subject to both Connecticut and the federal DOT health standards. Connecticut has specific medical standards for persons who operate a school bus, student transportation vehicle, vanpool vehicle, or a bus, or a public service vehicle, or a service bus. Currently, any person who operates a public service vehicle or service bus must submit evidence the he or she has successfully completed a physical examination. No person shall be issued a license for the operation of a public service motor vehicle or service bus, if that persons has an established medical history or clinical diagnosis of epilepsy or any other condition which is likely to cause loss of consciousness or any loss of ability to control a motor vehicle [CONN. AGENCIES REGS. § 14-44-1 (2008)].
Individuals who do not drive or whose licenses are suspended or withdrawn may obtain a state I.D. card. Two forms of identification are required of the applicant -- one must be a birth certificate, along with one of the following: employee I.D. by Federal or State Government with signature and photograph, passport, military I.D., alien registration document with photograph, I.D. card issued by income maintenance with photograph, social security card with signature, bank book with signature, baptismal certificate, pistol or firearm permit, military discharge papers (form DD214), naturalization certificate, certified adoption papers, and certified school records. The above must be accompanied by resident address verification, in the form of a postmarked letter, utility bill, lease/rental agreement, or mortgage document and a fee of $15.00. See http://www.ct.gov/dmv/cwp/view.asp?a=805&Q=244720.
Any physician may report to the Department of Motor Vehicles, in writing, the name, age and address of "any person diagnosed by him to have any chronic health problems which in the physician's judgment will significantly affect the person's ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, or to have recurrent periods of unconsciousness uncontrolled by medical treatment" [CONN. GEN. STAT. § 14-46 (2008)].
Air Travel & Security Regulations
Confused about what new TSA guidelines will mean for your travel plans? The United States Department of Transportation has information on their website to answer questions passengers with disabilities may have about the new security procedures. Find out more here. For more information about your rights as an air traveler with a disability, or to lodge a complaint, call 1-800-778-4838 (voice) or 1-800-455-9880 (TTY). You can also visit the Department of Transportation's (DOT) Aviation Consumer Protection Division website or visit the Federal Aviation Administration's website. For a question or complaint related to the airport security screening process, call the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) Consumer Response Center at 1-877-336-4872, email or visit the TSA's website.
Can you drive an automobile if you have epilepsy? Yes, if your seizures are controlled with treatment and you meet the licensing requirements in your state. The most common requirement for people with epilepsy is that they are seizure-free for a specified period of time and submit a physician's evaluation of their ability to drive safely. Another common requirement is the periodic submission of medical reports, in some states for a specified period of time and in others for as long as the person remains licensed.
There has been a significant trend away from an across-the-board seizure-free period, and to a reduced period when one is required. While a number of states still require a one year seizure-free period, most of these will allow exceptions under which a license may be issued after a shorter period. Examples of possible appropriate exceptions include the following: a breakthrough seizure due to physician-directed medication change, an isolated seizure where the medical examination indicates that another episode appears unlikely, a seizure related to a temporary illness, a seizure due to an isolated incident of not taking medication, an established pattern of only nocturnal seizures, an established pattern of only seizures which do not impair driving ability, or an established pattern of an extended warning aura.
One feature which makes licensing easier for people who do not meet the state's main requirement is the availability of restricted licenses. Some states issue such licenses with restrictions such as daytime driving only, driving to and from work or within a certain distance from home, or driving only in an emergency. Once the state's regular licensing requirement is met, the restrictions are removed.
In most states medical information submitted by the applicant is reviewed by personnel within the motor vehicles department (or the state's equivalent department). Difficult cases are often referred to a consulting physician or the state Medical Advisory Board (MAB). Most states have such Boards which also handle appeals of decisions to deny or revoke licenses. Such decisions may be appealed, within a specified time period, by requesting an administrative hearing before the MAB or other designated body. When license revocation is involved, unless an imminent danger exists if the persons keeps driving, the action will usually be suspended pending the hearing decision. Every state allows for judicial review of the administrative decision. Requests for such review must be made within a designated time period.
Potential Liability of the Driver with Epilepsy
People who suffer from seizures have incurred civil or criminal liability as the result of seizure-related accidents. Such liability has occurred when individuals have driven against medical advice, without a valid license, without the state DMV being aware of their medical conditions, or with the knowledge that there was a particular reason why they should not be driving at that time.
To find out the laws of your state regarding driving with epilepsy, visit our Driving Laws by State database.
Public Transportation & Paratransit Services
People with epilepsy may not be able to drive or may have restricted licenses, making it difficult getting to necessary places. Not driving may limit their ability to work, to get out in the community, or to get to appointments. Public transportation may help; however, it is not always accessible or appropriate. For people with frequent seizures, it may be dangerous to wait for regular bus services at busy intersections where they may encounter danger during a seizure.
Paratransit services are transportation services for people who cannot use the regular public transportation bus services. These services may pick people up at their homes or at specific locations. Paratransit services are available for people who meet one of the following requirements:
•You cannot get on, ride on, or get off a regular bus because of your disability even when the bus is accessible (that is, when it has a mechanical lift for a wheelchair or has some other adjustment for disability); or
•You have a disability and can't use the regular bus system; or
•Your impairment prevents you from traveling to or from a bus stop.
To find out about paratransit services, call the county transit authority where you live. When applying, people should specifically describe their disability or impairment in detail and explain why their condition prevents them from using the regular bus system. Notes from doctors may be helpful to support the information provided in the application.
Title III of the American's with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits public accommodations, such as the public transportation system, from discriminating against persons with disabilities. Under the ADA, a qualified person with a disability has the right to request a reasonable accommodation with the regular bus services. This may consist of the bus providing a seatbelt for someone with frequent seizures so they do not injure themselves during a seizure. If regular bus services do not meet individual needs, paratransit services may be available. If you are denied a reasonable accommodation or paratransit services, you may file an ADA complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice.
•Don't drive unless you have a valid license and are not having seizures.
•If you can't drive because of epilepsy, explore local "Dial a Ride" services and public transportation options.
•When riding a bicycle, wear a helmet, knee pads and elbow pads.
•When possible, stay on side roads or bike paths.
•Stand back from the road when waiting for a bus and from the platform edge when taking the subway or train.
•If you wander during a seizure, try to take a friend along when you travel.
•If subway or other escalators or stairs are unusually steep, consider using elevators instead.
•If you're going to be outside in extremely cold weather, go with a friend.
©2008 Epilepsy Foundation. All rights reserved. This summary was developed for information purposes by the Epilepsy Foundation's Legal and Government Affairs Department and reflects data available as of November 2008. Information may not be complete and is subject to change. This summary is not a substitute for legal advice. For further information, consult your state Department of Motor Vehicles.
Back To All News