Driving with Diabetes in Massachusetts

immediate_threat_medicalThe highest court in Massachusetts has ruled that the purpose of licensure is preservation of public health, safety, and welfare by extending the public trust only to those with proven qualifications. For this reason, the Legislature authorized the Registrar to revoke or suspend an operator’s license if there is reason to believe that the licensee’s continued operation of a motor vehicle would constitute an immediate threat to public safety, regardless of the underlying reason. However, you are entitled to apply for reinstatement by showing that returning you to the road would not compromise public safety.

In my law practice, I have had the opportunity to handle a large number of cases involving Immediate Threat Medical Indefinite Revocations which the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles imposes upon the receipt of a report from a physician, health care provider or police officer indicating that a driver may not be safe to operate a motor vehicle due to a diabetic episode which resulted from uncontrolled blood sugar.

Low blood sugar, in particular, can cause blackouts, loss of consciousness, an altered mental state, and it has the potential to cause the loss of control of a motor vehicle, which is the Registry’s concern.

If your license has been revoked due to a diabetic episode, you will have to convince a Registry Hearings Officer that your diabetes is under control to such an extent that you are safe to resume driving. Fortunately, modern insulin pumps can go a long way towards bringing diabetes under control and there are several ways that you can show that your blood sugar is being monitored and sufficiently controlled. The Registry will generally require completed Loss of Consciousness and Medical Clearance Forms as a first step. Both of these forms must be completed a certain way and only after the completing physician has read the applicable police report or Medical Evaluation Request. The doctor who completes the forms must indicate that he or she has an understanding of the event which resulted in the loss of your license. Simply having a doctor write a letter regarding your condition will not satisfy the Registry.

In many diabetes cases, the Registry places an “S” or “sugar” restriction on the diabetic’s license and he or she is required to provide quarterly blood sugar monitoring agreements to a RMV Hearings Officer. These forms must be signed by the customer’s treating endocrinologist indicating that the customer is complying with treatment and mainlining his or her blood sugar within normal limits.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of an immediate threat medical revocation, hardship licenses are not available. Neither the Board of Appeal nor MassDOT will consider anyone for a hardship license while an immediate threat revocation is in effect. The rationale for this is that if a person is not safe to drive, they should not be driving at all, until the Registry is satisfied that their medical condition is under control.