Did you know that motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of injury-related deaths in people aged 65-74? Did you know that many seniors and others with special medical conditions are unable or unwilling to decide for themselves whether it is safe for them to drive? Or that their families are often afraid to take away the keys? It's true, and that's why law enforcement and physicians often play a leading role in protecting these individuals from the perils of unsafe driving. The following information is intended to help you in this ambitious goal.
By regularly assessing their patients' fitness to drive, medical professionals can better identify drivers at increased risk for crashes, help them enhance their driving safety, and ease the transition to driving retirement if and when it becomes necessary.
New Jersey law (N.J.S.A. 39:3-10.4) requires physicians to report patients to the Motor Vehicle Commission within 24 hours after determining that the patient experiences:
Loss of motor coordination due to conditions such as, but not limited to, epilepsy in any of its forms, which persist or recur despite medical treatment.
The Medical Review Unit greatly appreciates the support of the New Jersey medical community in this effort and tries to simplify the process for you:
If you believe that one of your patients is no longer fit to drive, please fill out MVC's Form MR-4: Medical Emergency Report [612k pdf]. If you are unable to download the form or have any questions about its contents, please call us.
You may also receive the "Medical Examination Report" (MR1) from individuals who have been reported to the MVC by law enforcement or family members, and have been sent the forms in the mail. Please note that all form(s) must be returned within 45 days in order to avoid license suspension.
Completed forms may be returned via fax or by mail; see Contact the Medical Review Unit below for this information.
The American Medical Association provides helpful information in its Physicians Guide to Assessing and Counseling Older Drivers.
The physician’s findings in the "Medical Emergency Report" determine the next steps in the medical review process, which may range from indefinite license suspension to a restricted license, to no action required. Many times, additional information or tests are required.
In instances where a seizure disorder, syncope condition or recurrent loss of motor coordination has been identified, a 15-day direct order may be issued according to NJAC 13:19-5.2
Approximately 55% of cases are referred to doctors on MVC's Medical Advisory Panel. These doctors review information and test results provided by the driver’s personal physician—the Medical Advisory Panel does not perform examinations or communicate directly with drivers. This process takes approximately 3-4 weeks.
Few people are more qualified to make a judgment about a person's fitness to drive than a police officer. Every day, officers encounter drivers that are medically impaired during standard traffic stops and at the scene of accidents. At times, police officers may also be approached by individuals who are concerned about the driving skills of a family member. The MVC greatly appreciates the support of police officers in this effort.
Here is an explanation of how the MVC's medical review process works when a police officer is involved:
If a police officer wishes to receive updates on the status of a driver who they reported to the MVC, please contact us by phone. Unfortunately, a medical review can often be a long, drawn-out process. The MVC appreciates your commitment to these cases and will make every effort to provide updates.