Driving and dementia California's approach to a medical and policy dilemma

West J Med. 1996 Feb;164(2):111-21.


The cognitive impairment that defines dementia is thought to place affected persons at increased risk for unsafe driving. Nevertheless, many persons with dementia continue to drive after the onset of their illness. Since 1988 California physicians have been required to report older persons with Alzheimer's disease and related disorders to their local health departments, information that is then reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). To reevaluate how it acts on this information, the DMV convened an interdisciplinary panel of experts and modified its policies regarding drivers with dementia. As revised, the driver's licenses of persons with moderate or advanced dementia will be revoked without further testing. Persons with early or mild dementia will have the opportunity to demonstrate the capacity to drive through a reexamination process. In this manner, the California DMV hopes to balance the need for public safety and with the preservation of personal independence of persons with dementia.

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease
  • Automobile Driving* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • California
  • Dementia*
  • Humans
  • Public Policy
  • Safety