It was a scene from a horror movie an out of control SUV plowed onto a soccer field Saturday morning, injuring five people. Police believe the driver suffered a seizure just before losing control.
The Department of Motor Vehicles monitors people with medical conditions. It's based on an honor system. Applicants must disclose any medical conditions. Failure to do so can result in a fine.
"They would be required to get us a medical evaluation and review the application and look at what the doctor's recommendation is, should they be driving at all, should we take away the license or be on progress reports at different intervals," said Mike Smith, the DMV's Director of Operations.
Currently there are more than 478-thousand active licenses in the state. So far this year, 428 people have had to be re-examined, though the state does not track how many were for medical purposes.
Smith said the DMV is sure how many drivers have potentially dangerous medical conditions. "It's hard to say because it is unknown. We do see it quite frequently that applicants let us know, so it's hard to judge the ones who don't," he said.
In the Bristol case, Police say the driver had a history of seizures -- mostly while sleeping, but had not suffered one in four years. His driver's license was valid and had never been revoked. It's unclear whether his condition was reported or not.
"They come and go with no particular warning," said Dr. Keith Nagle, a Burlington neurologist.
Nagle and other experts recommend that anyone who suffers a seizure should not operate a motor vehicle for the next three to six months, even if they are taking medication. "It's a concern of what are the chances a seizure would occur, If you would go 'X' number of months without a seizure and the statistics are very, very good at three months and particularly good at six months," he said.
Nagle said the possibility of not driving for several months causes some people to avoid reporting their seizures."If you can just imagine 99.9999 percent of the time you are completely fine and you have a 30 or 90 second episode, where you have a seizure the next three to six months of your life are kablamo," he said.
A decision that impacts not just one life, but many.
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