May 2005 "Do Old Drivers Fade Away?"
PLANNING FOR WEALTH & SECURITY
By Attorneys Jennifer and Jeff Hawkins
DO OLD DRIVERS FADE AWAY?
Consider the following headlines:
“Elderly Woman Sentenced For Fatal Car Accident” (April 28, 2003, © 2005 WCPO-TV Scripps Howard Broadcasting Company http://www.wcpo.com/news/2003/local/04/28/senior_sentence.html)
“Elderly Floridian loses control of car in farmers' market” (Saturday, July 26, 2003, Copyright © 2003 The Detroit News, http://www.detnews.com/2003/nation/0307/26/nation-227719.htm.)
Jeff Hawkins’ grandfather stopped driving in his mid-90s. Up to that time, the Plainville United Methodist Church set up a separate parking spot for him because he had crunched all four of his car doors during his parking maneuvers. He never drove outside of town in his last years and that car rarely exceeded 40 miles per hour.
As the baby boom generation ages, we expect them to push the average age of drivers much higher. With more aged drivers on the road each year, America must deal with the concern that some aged drivers have become too frail to control their vehicles. Legislators and ethicists are wrestling with how to keep us safe from impaired drivers, while preserving the pride and independence of our aged citizens.
Many families grieve about how to deal with their older drivers as their ancient senses and reflexes fade. Should they get a court order to take the keys away? Should they sabotage the vehicle and render it inoperable? Should they stand by and watch their loved ones cause deadly accidents?
The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (the “BMV”) has now set up an answer to this troublesome problem. The BMV says that if a person has a concern about an elderly person continuing to drive, they can submit a letter to the BMV. The letter should explain why the impaired person should not continue to drive. The letter should be addressed to:
Attn' Drivers Services
Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles
100 North Senate Avenue, Room N 440
Indianapolis, In 46204.
The BMV will then send out a medical review packet to the driver. The driver will have a certain number of days to get his doctor to help him fill out the information packet and return the documents to the BMV. The BMV has its own review panel that reviews the information. The BMV then makes a decision to; 1) do nothing; 2) impose restrictions; 3) request that the person take certain action; or 4) revoke the driver's license. If the person does not send the packet back within the required time limit the BMV will revoke the person’s license.
The BMV program will not cure all of our impaired driver problems, but it is the most recent effort to approach the subject with objectivity and sensitivity. Until a better solution arrives, let’s all be careful on those dangerous roads.
THIS ARTICLE IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE. ALWAYS CONSULT AN ATTORNEY DIRECTLY BEFORE RELYING UPON THIS ARTICLE OR CHANGING AN ESTATE PLAN.
© 2005 by HAWKINS LAW PC, Estate, Trust & Business Attorneys. All rights reserved.