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Under section 203(1) of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act, doctors are required to report your name, address and medical condition to the Registrar of the Ministry of Transportation if they think it may be dangerous for you to drive:

Every legally qualified medical practitioner shall report to the Registrar the name, address and clinical condition of every person sixteen years of age or over attending upon the medical practitioner for medical services who, in the opinion of the medical practitioner, is suffering from a condition that may make it dangerous for the person to operate a motor vehicle.

It is not clear what the law means by “a condition that may make it dangerous for the person to operate a motor vehicle”.  Doctors are allowed to use different guidelines, but are not obligated to use any when deciding whether to report a patient.  Since the law is unclear, some hospitals have policies that require their doctors to automatically report patients with certain conditions to the Registrar.  These conditions are often related to mental health or addiction, and the decision to revoke a license may be heavily influenced by an individual doctor’s own views on mental health, as opposed to evidence.

Consider patients with Diabetes.  If a person has Diabetes, doctors generally assume that they will be responsible enough not to drive when they have low blood sugar, which could result in becoming comatose (at the wheel).  On the other hand, a dubious diagnosis of a mental health condition or an addiction is enough to presume that that person necessarily lacks the same judgment we assume of someone with Diabetes.

Although your doctor reports your condition, the Registrar of Motor Vehicles is the person who decides whether or not to suspend your license.  The Registrar does not need to have any medical training.  Right now, it is unclear what criteria go into the decision to revoke your license, which means that some decisions can be arbitrary.

If you disagree with Registrar’s decision, the License Appeal Tribunal reviews the Registrar’s decision to suspend a license.  In 8090 v. Registrar of Motor Vehicles, the License Appeal Tribunal stated that the Registrar must consider the following factors in their decision to suspend a license:

  1. A stable condition
  2. Sufficient driver insight to stop driving if the condition becomes acute
  3. Proper function ability to operate a motor vehicle
  4. Support from the treating physician
  5. Conditions for maintaining a license are met.

Unfortunately, it seems that these considerations are often overlooked.  As a result, many people have had their freedom to drive taken away on no rational basis.

The Empowerment Council would like to learn more about the experience of service users and driver’s license suspensions.  We will also talk to you about a case going before the Human Rights Tribunal.  Please join us on Tuesday, October 22nd from 4 – 6 pm at 1001 Queen St. W, Training Room A.  Please RSVP at ec.volunteer@camh.ca or 416-535-8501 ext. 33013, or fill in the form below.

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