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AB 942 Memo:

NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY
MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION
submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
 
BILL NUMBER: A942
 
SPONSOR: Carroll
  TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the vehicle and traffic law, in relation to requiring disclosure to the department of motor vehicles of any condition which may cause a person licensed to operate a motor vehicle to lose consciousness or have impaired cognition   PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: The purpose of this legislation is to ensure the safety of pedestrians and drivers by requiring timely reports to the Department of Motor Vehi- cles after an individual sixteen years of age or older is diagnosed with a chronic condition which causes or may cause unconsciousness or unawareness.   SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section 1: Amends the vehicle and traffic law to add a new section 216-b requiring reports of health conditions that may impair the ability to operate a motor vehicle. This report will be used by the medical review unit of the department of motor vehicles to conduct an investigation into the subject of the report's condition and ability to operate a motor vehicle. This report will include recommendations to the commis- sioner as to the driver's fitness to operate a motor vehicle, including whether any restrictions should be placed on such person's driver's license, whether the license should be suspended, revoked, or denied, or whether such license should continue without restriction. This section also requires that reports and the contents thereof shall be kept confidential by the Department, to be used for the sole purpose described in this section. This section also provides licensed physi- cians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners with civil and criminal liability in any action or proceeding on account of any report or disclosure made in accordance with the provisions of this section. Section 2: Amends Sec. 506 of the vehicle and traffic law to add a new subdivision 6, which requires, in addition to any existing provision of law or regulation, any licensed driver who knows he or she has been diagnosed with any chronic condition which causes or may cause uncon- sciousness or unawareness to report such condition and related facts to the commissioner.   JUSTIFICATION: On October 3, 2014, Calin Fly, a 4-month-old from Dansville, New York, died as a result of injuries sustained when an automobile crashed through the front of the home in which he lived. The driver gave a voluntary statement in which he described having a condition that causes seizures for which he takes daily medication. In the driver's statement, he stated that the last thing he remembered was coming to an inter- section located approximately a block from Calin's home. He became alert again when he found himself inside of his vehicle after it had crashed into the family's home. In August of 2011, a driver crashed her vehicle into a group of pedes- trians standing in front of a church in Voorheesville, New York. Three innocent people were killed in the crash. The driver of the vehicle was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and was being treated with a number of medications. The driver pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homi- cide after officials determined that the accident was caused by the cocktail of medications she was on. On May 30, 2015, Maksym Sugorovskiy, a 3-year-old boy, died from inju- ries sustained when a vehicle careened over a low curb into Delaware Park in Buffalo, New York, crashing into Makysm, his 5-year-old sister. Stephanie, and their mother, Mary. Authorities believe that the driver was asleep at the wheel, and it was reported in the media that the driv- er suffers from narcolepsy and epilepsy. These cases highlight a glaring need in state law that will help protect both drivers and pedestrians. Under current law, individuals are only required to disclose information about medical conditions that may impair their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle when they are applying for their first driver's license or are applying to renew their driver's license. When filling out the DMV MV-44 form, the applicant is required to check "yes" or "no" to a question regarding conditions caus- ing unconsciousness or unawareness. If the applicant checks yes, they must have certain forms filled out by a licensed physician, which are then submitted to the DMV to initiate a rigorous investigation by the DMV's Medical Review Unit to make a determination as to whether to deny a license, grant a license, or grant a license with certain restrictions. New York State currently requires a regular license renewal every eight years. This means that a driver could apply for or renew their license and one month later be diagnosed with a condition causing unconscious- ness or unawareness, and would be under no obligation to disclose that information to the DMV. Requiring licensed physicians, physician assistants and nurse practi- tioners, as well as the individuals themselves, to report to the DMV in a timely manner diagnoses of conditions causing unconsciousness or unawareness enables the Department to conduct a rigorous review of the individual's medical condition. By ensuring that these reports are made in a timely manner after diagnosis is a step toward preventing tragedy.   PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: A.10094 of 2017-18 A.3114 of 2020   FISCAL IMPLICATION: To be determined.   EFFECTIVE DATE: Takes effect on the one hundred twentieth day; provided, however, that effective immediately, the addition, amendment and/or repeal of any rule or regulation necessary for the implementation of this act on its effec- tive date are authorized and directed to be made and completed on or before such effective date.
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