Assessing Fitness to Drive

Table of Contents

7.3 Medical standards for licensing

Requirements for unconditional and conditional licences are outlined in the following table.

It is important that health professionals familiarise themselves with both the general information above and the tabulated standards before making an assessment of a person’s fitness to drive.

Medical standards for licensing – Psychiatric conditions
Condition

Private standards

(Drivers of cars, light rigid vehicles or motorcycles unless carrying public passengers or requiring a dangerous goods driver licence – refer to definition)

Commercial standards

(Drivers of heavy vehicles, public passenger vehicles or requiring a dangerous goods driver licence – refer to definition)

Psychiatric conditions

A person is not fit to hold an unconditional licence:

  • if the person has a chronic psychiatric condition of such severity that it is likely to impair insight, behaviour, cognitive ability or perception required for safe driving.

A conditional licence may be considered by the driver licensing authority subject to periodic review, taking into account the nature of the driving task and information provided by the treating doctor as to whether the following criteria are met:

  • the condition is well controlled and the person is compliant with treatment over a substantial period; and
  • the person has insight into the potential effects of their condition on safe driving; and
  • there are no adverse medication effects that may impair their capacity for safe driving; and
  • the impact of comorbidities has been considered (e.g. substance abuse).

A person is not fit to hold an unconditional licence:

  • if the person has a chronic psychiatric condition of such severity that is likely to impair behaviour, cognitive ability or perception required for safe driving.

A conditional licence may be considered by the driver licensing authority subject to periodic review, taking into account the nature of the driving task and information provided by a psychiatrist as to whether the following criteria are met:

  • the condition is well controlled and the person is compliant with treatment over a substantial period; and
  • the person has insight into the potential effects of their condition on safe driving; and
  • there are no adverse medication effects that may impair their capacity for safe driving; and
  • the impact of comorbidities has been considered (e.g. substance abuse).

IMPORTANT: The medical standards and management guidelines contained in this chapter should be read in conjunction with the general information contained in Part A of this publication. Practitioners should give consideration to the following:

Licensing responsibility

The responsibility for issuing, renewing, suspending or cancelling, or reinstating a person’s driver licence (including a conditional licence) lies ultimately with the driver licensing authority.

Licensing decisions are based on a full consideration of relevant factors relating to health and driving performance.

Conditional licences

For a conditional licence to be issued, the health professional must provide to the driver licensing authority details of the medical criteria not met, evidence of the medical criteria met, as well as the proposed conditions and monitoring requirements.

The nature of the driving task

The driver licensing authority will take into consideration the nature of the driving task as well as the medical condition, particularly when granting a conditional licence. For example, the licence status of a farmer requiring a commercial vehicle licence for the occasional use of a heavy vehicle may be quite different from that of an interstate multiple combination vehicle driver. The examining health professional should bear this in mind when examining a person and when providing advice to the driver licensing authority.

The presence of other medical conditions

While a person may meet individual disease criteria, concurrent medical conditions may combine to affect fitness to drive, for example, hearing, visual or cognitive impairment (refer to Part A section 2.2.7 Multiple medical conditions and age-related change).

Reporting responsibilities

Patients should be made aware of the effects of their condition on driving and should be advised of their legal obligation to notify the driver licensing authority where driving is likely to be affected. The health professional may themselves advise the driver licensing authority as the situation requires (refer to section 3.3.1 and step 6 of the assessment and reporting process).

References and further reading

  1. Monash University Accident Research Centre. Influence of chronic illness on crash involvement of motor vehicle drivers, 2nd edition, November 2010. Available: http://monashuniversity.mobi/muarc/reports/muarc300.html.