The state of Pennsylvania gives doctors a fair amount of discretion in reporting mental conditions that may impair safe driving. In general, physicians are encouraged to consider reporting the following conditions:
- Inattentiveness to the task of driving because of, for example, preoccupation, hallucination or delusion.
- Contemplation of suicide, as may be present in acute or chronic depression or in other disorders.
- Excessive aggressiveness or disregard for the safety of self or others or both, presenting a clear and present danger, regardless of cause.
- Periodic episodes of loss of attention or awareness which are of unknown etiology or not otherwise categorized, unless the person has been free from episode for the year immediately preceding, as reported by a licensed physician.
- Use of any drug or substance, including alcohol, known to impair skill or functions, regardless whether the drug or substance is medically prescribed.
- Other conditions which, in the opinion of a provider, is likely to impair the ability to control and safely operate a motor vehicle.
As you can see, the judgment of the doctor is very important in these cases. Technically, caffeine is a substance which can impair safe driving ability, but we wouldn’t want doctors recommending license suspensions for people who drink coffee.
In most cases, physicians should recommend a driving assessment by a trained professional before making any conclusions about the safe driving abilities of the individual. While the physician is an expert in the health of the patient, he/she may not be an expert in assessing the ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.