Insulin and Drivers Licenses - Is this fair???

By MaryYouBetcha Latest Reply 2015-01-21 17:20:14 -0600
Started 2015-01-15 13:36:23 -0600

I live in Minnesota. In this state, there is a requirement that every person that has been prescribed insulin (even long-acting insulin or even if you're not actually using it all the time) has to get send in a certification every year that contains a section for you to state that you haven't had any medication-related accidents while driving and - this is the thing that really burns me - you have to get your doctor to sign the form and state whether or not you should have to be certified again in 6 months, 1 year or three years.
Earlier this year, I received the certification notice with the form but since I wasn't taking any insulin right at the moment (my doctor had prescribed Lantus at bedtime if necessary which it wasn't then) I didn't think it applied to me. Imagine my surprise when I received a notice that my license was suspended AND I couldn't even get a provisional license for work because my suspension didn't have anything to do with a DUI. (DUI's can usually get a provisional license.) Luckily I have an excellent health care system and excellent endocrinology department that fixed everything for me within a couple days. But I was actually driving around with a suspended license for a couple weeks before I knew. This was absolutely crushing to me as I've never gotten a ticket or been in an accident.
Even before this, I thought this law was absolutely discrimination against insulin users. I know that some people do crash when they have low blood sugar and pass out. But WAY MORE people crash and kill others when they are drunk. If people who drink don't have to get a doctor's certificate why should we??? If DUI's can get a provisional license why can't we?
So, does your State do this? Do you think it's fair? Any ideas on what I could do to get the law changed?

23 replies

jaydoubleyou23 2015-01-19 06:57:42 -0600 Report

I completely understand why this makes you angry. But I actually completely agree with this law. Before I was diagnosed I had so much trouble driving because I could hardly see sometime . I could have easily gotten into some serious troubl . And I think that letting an uncontrolled diabetic drive is just as bad as letting a drunk driver on the road. High or low, it can affect your driving skills dramatically. I don't think they're trying to pick on us, theyre just concerned for safety reasons.

MaryYouBetcha 2015-01-21 13:35:57 -0600 Report

It's interesting how many people have said they had problems driving before being diagnosed. But my point is this law only applies to those that are prescribed insulin. It doesn't apply to uncontrolled diabetics, undiagnosed diabetics or diabetics on oral medications. I'm not saying that it isn't good to have laws that will reduce impaired driving. I'm saying that this only applies to one little section of the population and misses so many others that it seems discriminatory and outdated (outdated because it is really is leftover from the days when insulin was the only drug to use and monitoring equipment and dosing was not nearly as precise).

BreC 2015-01-17 18:27:22 -0600 Report

I am on insulin and would feel slighted if my license were taken away because of it. Most times I have someone with me when I go out. My son works midnight shift and if there is somewhere I need to go, we go early and get back home so he can rest. If I go alone it is short trips. Like 5-10 minutes to my destination. Longer trips I absolutely have someone with me. I am a home body and don't go out unless it's a have to case.

lilleyheidi 2015-01-16 01:06:50 -0600 Report

Before I was diagnosed I had several lows, I did not know they were lows at the time, only realized long after diagnosis what had happened, but I came close to several accidents. I'm very very lucky. i thank God I never had an accident and when I get behind the wheel I always check my BG. especially for longer trips i'm on long acting insulin. My state does not require such a certificate, gratefully.
I'm not sure how to go about getting this law changed, nor would I try in my state if I could. Personally, I'm not against it. I don't think it's fair about drunk drivers either, that is the law I would work on. I'd definitely try to gt that law changed. Best of luck to you and best of health to you. Heidi

jayabee52 2015-01-15 22:53:07 -0600 Report

When were you promised that life would be "fair" for anything.
What MN is doing is trying to make the state safe from crashes brought on by hypos. I will grant you it seems unfair.

I lived in CA for a while where they had a similar law on the books. I was taking insulin at that time but since I could affirm that I hadn't had a low in so many days I was cleared to drive.

In NV I am unaware of any such law. I am ok anyway as I no longer use insulin to mangage my BG levels

If you are bothered by the laws in MN, you can work to change them

Praying for success for you there


MaryYouBetcha 2015-01-17 12:48:30 -0600 Report

In my post, I said I definitely wanted to work on changing the laws. I'm not sure how, so any suggestions would be welcome.
Putting a smile or something after your first sentence would have helped me feel a little better about your words. They seemed a little harsh. Also, I know why the laws exist - but it seems that they protect against such a small part of total number of impaired accidents that it's sort of like using a sledge hammer to pound in a brad to hang a picture. It makes insulin some kind of evil drug when many many other drugs, including oral diabetes medications, can cause the same hypoglycemia. Insulin is necessary for some people to treat their diabetes even among the T2 community and I think it gets a really bad rap due to laws like this and the social stigma related.
I've liked your other posts, James, so I want you to know that I'm not taking offense. Maybe a little more kindness as well as the prayers (which I really appreciate).

jayabee52 2015-01-19 08:08:10 -0600 Report

Here is a belated smiley ;-). sorry I seemed harsh. To change the law in MN you may need to contact your local state representative in your district. Ask him or her as to how to go about changing that law.

You could also contact both your state senators and get their take on how to change that law.

That is about the only way I know to go about modifying a law with which you don't agree.

Praying for your success.

BreC 2015-01-15 16:21:05 -0600 Report

My granddaughter is 17 and can't get her license because she has black out spells. She is under the care of a specialist and he is not ready to sign the needed document for her. When she gets scared, excited, upset, and overwhelmed she will pass out. Until she gets to where she has a handle on it, she won't be able to get her license. My mother has fainting spells. We have to watch her closely and especially if she attends a funeral. Doctors have not been able to tell us why my granddaughter or my mother passes out.
I don't know what the laws are here in Tennessee as far as insulin users but it does seem unfair that diabetics are targeted.

Jibber Jabber
Jibber Jabber 2015-01-15 15:18:11 -0600 Report

what about people on heart meds with a history of heart attacks…or people that are at high risk of a stroke??..I mean I get why they do it…BUT if they are not going to do it across the board, why pick on insulin users??

RosalieM 2015-01-15 15:39:27 -0600 Report

A user of fast acting insulin, can go into a low really fast and be out of it.

MaryYouBetcha 2015-01-15 16:42:32 -0600 Report

I mentioned that in my discussion post. Drunks can pass out even faster and they know before they even get in their cars. So why don't they require these certificates for drunk drivers as well.

Nick1962 2015-01-15 14:42:31 -0600 Report

We’ve had this discussion before, and for a long while I was with you on it. What it boils down to is a drunk can control their “condition” (not that they always do) by not drinking. You, as a diabetic cannot, which is why you’re put on insulin to begin with.

MaryYouBetcha 2015-01-15 16:45:17 -0600 Report

Excuse me but I can control my condition very well sir. I wasn't put on insulin for any lack of control at all. If you follow the control logic, then drunk drivers who offend more than once have proven they can't control their condition and therefore should be subject to the certification. And, they should never ever ever be given provisional licenses to get to work if I can't get one of those even though I haven't had an accident or caused any accidents in my whole life due to insulin.

Nick1962 2015-01-15 19:03:53 -0600 Report

No need for the “sir”. The law was not specifically written for your individual case. In most states you can’t even apply for a commercial driver’s license if you take insulin.

Yes, I do know about control – I control mine well without any medications at all, and have also had to do the same thing with my license but no longer do.

Your comparison isn’t an equal one. I agree that drunk drivers should not get provisional licenses. In my state they don’t. However, diabetics (especially the ones who do nothing to manage their condition) can frequently experience hypoglycemic episodes without warning and pass out, which is not controllable. Nor is it evident in their driving skills until it’s too late.

Other medical factors like heart attack or stroke, well let’s put it this way, you won’t have 4 or 5 of those episodes on a daily basis. Just because you haven’t caused (or had) any accidents yet, doesn’t mean there won’t be a first time. Personally I’d hate to think I injured someone because I misjudged a dose or calculated a meal wrong.

MaryYouBetcha 2015-01-17 12:53:41 -0600 Report

Oral diabetes medications can cause the same lows and the same crashes. Insulin can be an extremely effective medication for controlling T2 diabetes but with this type of law on the book, who would want to take it? Getting off of insulin or staying off of insulin should not be the sole goal of everyone with T2 diabetes. Using all available medications to control BG levels and have better, longer lives is what counts. Having a law like this on the books is discrimination towards one certain set of people and I will work to change it. Be thankful that oral medications don't come under the same situation - or who knows, they certainly might in the future considering the numbers of new diabetics each year.

Nick1962 2015-01-19 12:36:07 -0600 Report

Actually, all states have a “medical conditions” clause for licensure which includes diabetes. Some cover heart attack risk and other factors in addition to diabetes. In your state…”Applicants also are asked whether they use insulin and whether they use any medications, other than insulin to control loss of consciousness or voluntary control”, so they do also include orals.
My state doesn’t care about medications and only asks if you have diabetes, which covers a whole lot more diabetics. In New Mexico, they can request an exam for anything.

Fight this if you must, but I doubt you’ll get any further than those before you have. Even if you do, will you be prepared for the liabilities that come with it? Drunk drivers can be sued, and like you said, with all the new diabetics out there, I’m sure we’ll be next.

As far as the medications go, I disagree. I think it should be the goal of any diabetic to get off medications if possible. It means you are gaining control and will have less chance of developing diabetic complications (and of course keeping your license). Medication is a temporary crutch, not a cure.

MaryYouBetcha 2015-01-21 13:44:30 -0600 Report

Also, the law says "whether they use any medications, other than insulin to control loss of consciousness or voluntary control" (from your quote above). This does not include oral diabetes medication. This is to get at people with epilepsy or other diseases that cause them to lose consciousness. So, you only have to report anti-loss-of-consciousness drugs and insulin.

Nick1962 2015-01-21 17:20:14 -0600 Report

Well, it’s not really my quote, it’s from your state law, but yes you are correct. My state has no medication or insulin clause at all, and doesn’t differentiate T1’s from T2’s either. If you have diabetes, you have to submit to the evaluation (and potential re-evaluation as was my case) and any restrictions are based on your physicians opinion – case by case.
When comparing state laws that way, yes, yours is much less “fair” than mine. However, you also still need to go through the medical evaluation. I think the mistake here (and an honest one) was that even though you were off insulin, sending the form back saying so may have prevented the suspension. Probably far less hassle in the long run, fair or not.

MaryYouBetcha 2015-01-21 13:41:03 -0600 Report

We'll have to agree to disagree on that. I don't believe medication for diseases is a crutch - especially if you are a Type 1 diabetic. Even with Type 2: my boss - who is not obese, eats low carbs and is extremely active - still has to take a small amount of metformin to keep his A1C at 5.3. It runs in his genetics. But, like I said, we can agree to disagree - that's fine with me.

Nick1962 2015-01-21 16:56:36 -0600 Report

No, that one’s on me, my apologies. I made too broad a generalization and worded it poorly.
If medication is needed than by all means take it. I have a blood pressure issue. Even after losing 120 pounds and getting to textbook perfect bloodwork, it still needs a boost. Genetics at play with me as well. What I’m against are the folks who take it to get in a certain “range” (and I’m including many medical issues here, including cholesterol and blood pressure) and continue to take it without attempting to change the behaviors that put them there in the first place.

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