Law Enforcement

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older driver safety; pull over traffic stop; senior driving citation

Law enforcement officers play a pivotal role in ensuring the safety of older drivers. In many cases, it is a law enforcement officer who might first realize an individual is experiencing deficits that affect their ability to drive safely. Some officers report feeling conflicted about writing a ticket or submitting a request for medical review to the DMV, concerned that their actions might result in an individual losing their license. However, it is important to the safety of all road users that individuals who may be medically or cognitively impaired are adequately evaluated to determine if restrictions are necessary to ensure the safety of all road users.

For more information on the role of law enforcement and tools to help law enforcement in this role, see the Law Enforcement Guide from the Clearinghouse for Older Road User Safety.

There are several important resources that law enforcement officers should be aware of. Below are links to these important resources, along with a brief overview of each.

Medical Conditions in Older Drivers – Law Enforcement

This brief video, prepared by the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), provides an overview of medical conditions common among older drivers and how they can impact their driving. In addition, it introduces law enforcement to steps they can take to ensure both short-term and long-term safety should they encounter an individual who appears to be medically impaired.

The NC General Statutes – Chapter 20

Chapter 20 of the NC General Statutes establishes the law pertaining to licensing, including frequency of renewal, medical reviews, and restrictions to licensing.

The NC Justice Academy

On occasion, the NC Justice Academy includes training for Law Enforcement on the topic of senior drivers.

Medical Review

Law Enforcement officers who notice a driver who may be medically impaired, should report their concern to the DMV so that the driver can be evaluated to determine their medical fitness to drive. The Medical Review Unit within the DMV reviews referrals, along with documentation from a driver’s medical doctor and other professionals to determine what, if any, restrictions should be in place to ensure safety.

Driver Orientation Screen for Cognitive Impairment

Training, Research and Education for Driving Safety (TREDS) out of UC San Diego has created a training program and screening tool to help law enforcement identify and refer medically at-risk drivers. This training course is designed to instruct law enforcement on how to use the Driver Orientation Screening for Cognitive Impairment (DOSCI) tool to assess and recognize warning signs that may necessitate driver’s license re-examination. The DOSCI is used in several states and is available in paper and app form. Departments interested in utilizing the DOSCI and registering for live trainings should contact TREDS for more information.