Should a Loved One be Driving? Ask the DMV Medical Review Unit

I often have spouses or children expressing concern about a loved one driving.  This stems from a real fear that as a person gets older, suffers from dementia,  or is being treated for a medical condition, their reflexes and judgment may slow. While these conditions are difficult on their own, they can lead to tragedy if the person suffering from reduced abilities is behind the wheel of a car. They could damage property, or more importantly, injure or kill themselves or others.

What is a family to do?  In New Jersey a family member, physician, judge or police officer can request a Medical Review of the persons license and right to drive through the Medical Review Unit of the Motor Vehicle Commission (still the DMV in my mind).  

This is a serious step as it could lead to a person's loss of freedom of movement.  It cannot be done anonymously - the reported driver will be advised of who sent the letter.  However, it allows family members a means to partner with experts in determining if it is safe for a loved one to be driving.  

To request a Medical Review you must contact the Medical Review Unit in writing and provide them with the following information:

If you see these signs and want to request a medical review

  • Write a letter to MVC (must come from a family member, physician, judge or police officer):
  • Provide as much of the driver's information as possible: name, date of birth, address, driver license number and medical condition(s)
  • Include your relationship to the driver
  • Report the signs of impairment and safety concerns you have observed (see chart above)
  • Anonymous reports cannot be considered. Upon request, drivers will be told who reported them
  • If MVC's Medical Review Unit determines that a suspension or restriction is necessary, they will contact the driver by mail


When it Snows - Clean Your Car! New Law Coming

Snow Covered CarAs winter approaches (which last weeks unexpected snow reminded us is close at hand) a point of irritation bubbles to the top again - trying to get somewhere and dodging the ice, snow and debris from the car in front of you.  You know the car I am talking about - it snowed 3 days ago, and the car in front of you is encased in a 4 inch shiny snow crust with a square cut into the windshield and a rectangle in the driver side window for viewing.  As you are driving behind it you can only watch as sheet after sheet of ice comes sliding off, into your window, and making you almost get into an accident because you can't see.

Well, good news is on they way.  According to the Daily Record "Legislation that would toughen New Jersey's notoriously weak snow-removal law passed the Senate and Assembly in June. Gov. Jon S. Corzine is expected to sign it".

The current law is ridiculous - "Under the 1997 state law, a driver can get a ticket for not clearing a vehicle — but only if the snow dislodges and causes an injury or property damage, and only in the unlikely event an officer is nearby or the victim has the wherewithal to jot down a license plate number." (emphasis added).

While the new proposed law sounds better - it "would create an "affirmative duty" for snow removal with fines of up to $75"  - there will be many exemptions.  These appear to be aimed at:

  1. not being responsible for snow accumulation while it is still snowing (reasonable, so long as you cleared your car before your started your drive - not just clear a circle and go),
  2. not more than 1 ticket in a day (ridiculous - clean off your car, and if one ticket doesn't motivate you, another one might), and 
  3. exempting commercial trucks that are enroute to a place with snow removal equipment (reasonable in the sense that a trucker can't really clean whole rig, but those trucks are a hazard after the storm has passed).  

In typical New Jersey fashion, a fund is supposed to be created with some of the ticket revenue to educate people about the law. Given the state of our State's finance, I think that adding the general revenues would be a better choice.