January 27, 2000
Question from Michigan, USA:
I have taken insulin for 48+ years, age 61 years. I have driven for 45 years without an accident. Possibly because of eating before driving. But, the Michigan legislature has passed a driving law that says that if you have a reaction, you cannot get a driver’s license. No mention of where or when any reaction may occur. Could happen in the middle of the night. I had one at my office yesterday and was told by the hospital that this is a Michigan law. Are there any other States that have these legislative chains surrounding diabetics? Is there anything being done to repeal this legislation?
Laws differ from state to state, but basically, if you have episodes where you lose consciousness or have such a serious low blood sugar you can’t treat yourself, you may not be able to get a driver’s license (and probably shouldn’t drive even if you can). It sounds like you had such a serious low blood sugar at work, that you wound up at the hospital. If you were unable to recognize and treat a low blood sugar when you were awake and at work, I would be very concerned that it would be dangerous for you and others for you to drive. Is it possible that you are having so many low blood sugars that you are no longer getting your early warning symptoms (hypoglycemia unawareness)? If this is so, you should be working with your doctor to see if could adjust your control (perhaps let your blood sugars run a little higher), so you regain the early warning symptoms. I have successfully worked with patients who have had their licenses revoked after they had a low blood sugar and were involved in accidents get their license reinstated after they worked with me for months to readjust their control to avoid serious low blood sugars. It sounds like you have been very conscientious for decades and hopefully can work out a way to avoid serious lows so you can drive safely. I do not believe any state forbids diabetics who have any low blood sugars at all from driving, just if they have had low blood sugars that cause loss of control.