Here in Victoria as someone with diabetes I’m subject to a medical review of my fitness to drive a car, every 2 years (for people with diabetes not using insulin it’s usually every 5 years). It’s a fairly straightforward process, but in peer support communities I still hear reports of problems such as “they lost the report my doctor sent in and thus my licence got suspended”.
I haven’t had that problem, and in fact think it should be reasonable for most people to be able to avoid that risk. My own review paperwork arrived in the mail today and it seems a convenient time to outline the process I follow.
Note that the following description is about working with VicRoads: it will presumably differ slightly in other states. Depending on the state you live in and the particular licence you hold, the review period seems to vary between 1 and 5 years.
The letter arrives with a clear date listed showing when the medical review paperwork is due back at VicRoads. It’s usually 28 days from the date of the letter (although in this case by the time I got the letter there were only 24 days remaining).
One year the form arrived while I was spending a few weeks working overseas, so by the time I received it there wasn’t much time left until the deadline!
If the medical report is not received by then, the licence will be suspended and needs to be returned within the following fortnight. I would not be allowed to drive (although there are procedures to request a review). So the first question is…
Can it be done in time?
The form needs to be completed by a doctor who is familiar with my condition and who can attest to my fitness to drive.
Several years ago I had just changed GP when the letter arrived, and my new GP was not willing to complete the report. All I had to do was telephone the VicRoads Medical Review team and explain the date that I would be able to meet with my endocrinologist to get the form completed. They were very pleasant and happily gave me an extension (in fact longer than I was asking for). There was some initial panic on my part, but it all worked out smoothly.
This year I was prepared. After last time I’d made a note in my calendar (which is shared between my phone and computer, and covers many years not just the current one) that the review would be due some time in March 2019. So in January when I last saw my GP (just after I’d seen my endo, and with my endo’s report already copied to the GP) I checked with him that when it was due that he’d be happy to fill it out. Indeed he was: I wouldn’t have to chase down my endo (who I’m next due to see in June). My recent regular eye examinations were on file so that was sorted too.
Getting the report completed
Basically I take the report to the doctor (with my parts filled in) and get them to sign off that I’m eligible to drive. I’ve made an appointment to see my GP this week.
Hopefully no referrals to other specialists (e.g. eye examinations) will be required. But if they were I would be on the phone to VicRoads immediately if I was going to need an extension.
I do not leave the form with the doctor and hope that it will get posted/faxed to the VicRoads Medical Review department in time, even if they offer. I think this is where many people have tripped up.
As nice as my doctors are, I don’t trust this paperwork to their office staff’s paper management. If the paperwork got forgotten or misfiled and I lost my driving licence as a result of missing a deadline, there would be a huge impact on my life. By maintaining control of the process myself, I know that I’m not going to get a nasty surprise.
For years now I’ve been happy for the doctor to take a copy for their records, but I get to take the original form home with me. I simply scan it (if I didn’t have a desktop scanner I’d just photograph with my phone) and email the file to VicRoads. Their email system automatically sends me an acknowledgement of receipt, and eventually the decision is delivered to me via snail-mail.
In fact this is now the recommended process, and it’s spelt out on the form itself.
The only variable left in the process is the actual decision of the Medical Review board, but the judgement of the doctor completing the form is usually fairly clear and a binary yes/no statement, so hopefully there will be no surprises!
After sending through the scan of the completed form:
I expect the next communication will be a letter in the mail after a few week or two.