Driving with a mental health disorder: What do the California state laws say?

According to California law, the California DMV is authorized to examine if a driver has “any disorder or condition that might interfere with the alertness, strength, physical coordination, agility, judgment, attention, knowledge, or skill necessary to safely operate a motor vehicle.” What some might not know is that this does not only apply to medical conditions, but mental health conditions as well.

The types of mental health issues that usually cause the DMV to reexamine a driver include bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, or a chemical dependence of some sort. In the case of some older drivers, Alzheimer’s disease or dementia is also something the DMV has viewed as a cause to revoke driving privileges.

Doctors are required by law to disclose any disorders their patients have that may impair their ability to drive safely. If you have a friend or family member with a condition that might make them an unsafe driver, you are also allowed to submit a confidential report about their condition to the DMV.

If you have a mental health disorder that has been reported to the DMV, there are a few things that can happen. The DMV might decide there is not enough evidence you are an unsafe driver, or they can schedule a reexamination appointment to assess your suitability for driving. If they decide to suspend your license, you are allowed to ask for an administrative hearing to present your case for reversing their decision. If your case is successful, your license will be returned.