An Alzheimer’s patient and his driver’s license

The in basket: I have been providing transportation for a friend who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease a year or so ago and was told by his doctor not to drive anymore. He’s not obviously physically impaired by the disease so far and said he misses driving.

I asked the state Department of Licensing if voiding of a person’s driver’s license is automatic with such a diagnosis and if doctors face sanctions if they don’t report it.

The out basket: Brad Benfield, DOL spokesman, says, “In our state, we do not have any mandatory reporting laws for physicians, but it is very common for physicians to report medial conditions that would affect an individual’s ability to operate a vehicle safely (personal safety and public safety).

“We have a form available that physicians (and law enforcement officers) commonly use to report issues. Family members can also use this form. You can see it here:

“Our authority to take action on these is found in RCW 46.20.031:

which says, in part: “The department shall not issue a driver’s license to a person who has previously been adjudged to be incompetent due to a mental disability or disease.”

Anyone reporting such incompetence on that form, labeled How to Report an Unsafe Driver, should know that the report isn’t confidential, can be reported to the subject and his lawyer, and requires first-hand knowledge of the subject’s condition.

Actually. my friend’s license may still be valid and hasn’t been taken away. But he’s following doctor’s orders, and long ago sold his car. He said he witnessed an incident in which an elderly man suffering from dementia had car trouble on the steep hill on Sidney Road coming out of downtown Port Orchard, and doesn’t want to be in his shoes.

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