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October 30, 2001

Hypoglycemia, Other Social Issues

Question from Roeland Park, Kansas, USA:

I am 21 years old, I have had diabetes for five years, and about six months ago, I had a severe accident which the doctors believe was due to hypoglycemia, but when the paramedics tested my blood sugar, it was 92 mg/dl [5.1 mmol/L]. I do not remember the accident, but I due recall taking glucose tablets as soon as I got into my car that day.

The State of Kansas revoked my driving privileges. How do they determine being “episode free” for a certain period of time is safe for me? By this I mean, they told me I had to be episode free for six months, I tried to tell them that I could be episode free for so long and then have a problem. Blood glucose varies due to many things in your life. I told them that I would check my sugar every time before I drive and that would be the safest guarantee for me. They told me that that is a promise and not proof.

I am so frustrated because not being able to drive has caused me problems getting to college and work. I can’t get any real answers from the state about this. Is there a set amount of time that I have to be episode free, and what exactly is an episode? The definition they gave me was unconsciousness or having seizure-like activity. I haven’t had that since my accident but yet they are still denying everything my doctor has written and his approval for me to drive.


From: DTeam Staff

I’m sorry you had the accident. However, the state of Kansas is acting in a manner similar to other states. The usual time to symptom-free is six months. This means that you should not experience another low blood sugar reaction requiring the help of another person during that time interval. The state is trying to exercise a safety precaution which seems reasonable.

As a physician who sees many people with diabetes, I have been asked to sign such documents in the past. I would suggest you evaluate your status with your physician. This usually means a comprehensive look at your diabetes care regimen. It means frequent monitoring to prevent lows. It means checking your blood sugar before you drive in the future. You need to address this aggressively.

Additional comments from Dr. David Schwartz:

You need the assistance of an attorney with expertise in the vehicle and traffic code licensed to the practice of law in Kansas who can advise you of your rights and responsibilities under the law.


[Editor’s comment: I would also contact your local American Diabetes Association affiliate for help.