MIAMI -- The number of Floridians who have had their driver’s licenses revoked because they are deemed physically or mentally unfit has more than doubled in the last decade, according to state figures. The main reasons many lose driving privileges are related to dementia, stroke and seizures.
Last year, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles revoked 7,716 licenses for medical reasons compared to 3,559 in 2000. Most motorists lost their privileges because they didn’t submit more detailed medical information requested by the state to show they still should be able to drive.
The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports that a little-known Florida law allows anyone to notify the state about motorists with physical or mental conditions that could impair their driving. Many revocations started with reports from family members, the public or professionals reporting motorists to the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles after the drivers had been in accidents, became repeatedly confused or lost, or were consistently driving erratically.
The rise in revocations could also be attributed to Florida’s growing number of older drivers, said Fran Carlin-Rogers, a senior transportation consultant from Orlando. Nearly one in five residents is over 65 years old now, according to census data.
Florida has required drivers age 80 and older to have their eyes tested every six years since 2004. The Sentinel reported 6,559 licenses were revoked by medical review last year for either failing the state’s vision test or not submitting a vision report. The state’s Medical Advisory Board makes the final decision in such cases.
One Jupiter woman, whose husband has Alzheimer’s disease but asked not to be named because he was a well-known former professional, says a confidential reporting system is critical. She hoped his doctors would contact state officials after her spouse stole the car keys from her purse and drove to a nearby hardware store in his underwear. A doctor eventually started the paperwork last month on the incident last month.
She said dementia patients often won’t listen to their family’s pleas for them not to drive. For now, her husband still has a valid driver’s license.