Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) can affect your everyday routine because they often cause lifelong disabilities. While a minor brain injury can heal relatively quickly, some TBIs carry long-term issues. In addition to the long-term consequences of the brain injury, you might lose your ability to keep driving after a brain injury. Losing your driving privileges can impact your ability to get to work on time, run errands, and take your family from place to place. 

driving after brain injury

While suffering a TBI may seem unlikely, these injuries are probably more common than you think. In 2020 alone, the United States recorded more than 64,000 TBI-related deaths. TBI-related deaths and long-term health issues disproportionately affect certain groups, including:

  • Racial and ethnic minorities,
  • People experiencing homelessness,
  • Individuals incarcerated in jails or prisons,
  • Survivors of intimate partner violence,
  • Former and active military members, and
  • People who live in rural areas.

Unfortunately, many of these groups also face additional hardship if they lose their driving privileges after a brain injury. 

If you or a loved one suffered a brain injury, our team at GJEL accident attorneys can answer any questions about driving after a brain injury.

How Long After a Brain Injury Can You Drive?

Driving is a complex task, and you want to make sure that you can do so safely. Even a minor brain injury, like a concussion, can affect your perception and ability to drive safely. You can typically drive again 48 hours after your injury. If you suffer a more significant brain injury, you should see a doctor to discuss your ability to drive again. 

A moderate to severe brain injury may mean waiting longer before operating a vehicle. Some doctors suggest waiting several months if you suffer a brain injury that requires a hospital stay. Once you complete the waiting period, you should see your doctor so they can evaluate your overall fitness to drive.

If you still have questions about driving after your brain injury, reach out to our team at GJEL today to discuss your case. 

What Kind of Brain Injury Symptoms Can Affect My Ability to Drive?

A severe brain injury can cause side effects that impact your ability to safely operate a vehicle. Some of these side effects may include:

  • Numbness or loss of feeling in your arms,
  • Severe headaches,
  • Unexpected dizziness,
  • Blurred vision,
  • Lack of depth perception,
  • Loss of peripheral vision,
  • Loss of memory,
  • Inability to concentrate,
  • Severe fatigue, or
  • Seizures.

Any of these symptoms can alter your ability to drive. If you experience any of these symptoms after a head injury, stop driving immediately and consult your doctor. Our team at GJEL can connect you with a doctor with experience diagnosing and treating brain injuries. Contact us today to meet with one of our attorneys. 

California Driving Laws for Individuals Who Suffer a Traumatic Brain Injury

California’s Vehicle Code authorizes the Department of Motor Vehicles to require a driving reexamination for individuals with a physical or mental condition affecting their driving ability. If the driver refuses or fails the reexamination, the DMV can immediately suspend or revoke the driver’s license. When you apply for a driver’s license, you must provide a history of your physical condition and your brain injury, including an evaluation and prognosis from your physician.  

If the DMV orders suspension or revocation of your license due to a medical condition or disability, you can request a hearing within ten days to dispute the DMV’s case and provide new information.

What Disabilities Can Stop You from Driving?

California does not automatically restrict driving privileges based on particular disabilities. Instead, you must advise the DMV if your disability or injury affects your driving ability.

Conditions or disabilities that can stop you from driving in California include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease,
  • Diabetes,
  • Dementia,
  • Blindness,
  • Deafness,
  • Cataracts, or
  • Epilepsy.

The California DMV offers a self-assessment questionnaire to help you decide if you should evaluate your physical and mental capabilities before getting behind the wheel.

Can I Get a California Handicap Placard After a Traumatic Brain Injury?

In California, a qualified permanently disabled person can obtain a Disabled Person (DP) placard or license plate by completing an application. 

You can qualify for a DP placard if your mobility is impaired for any of the following reasons:

  • You do not have use of one or both lower extremities,
  • You do not have use of both hands,
  • Your diagnosed disease substantially impairs or interferes with your mobility,
  • You cannot move without the aid of an assistive device, or
  • You have specific, documented vision problems.

You can apply for a DP placard online or by mail. You must include a licensed physician’s signature on the Medical Provider’s Certification of Disability section of the application. A DP placard lets you legally park in any disabled parking space, next to blue curbs, next to green curbs, and in an on-street metered parking space without paying. You can receive a placard for all of your vehicles, or you can use one placard and take it with you when you drive a different vehicle.

If you need a handicap placard after suffering a brain injury, a GJEL attorney can help you fill out the application and submit the required information. 

If You Suffered a Brain Injury that Prevents You from Driving, Contact a Personal Injury Today

If you or a loved one suffered a traumatic brain injury, you should immediately speak with a personal injury attorney, like those at GJEL Accident Attorneys. Our lawyers can help you with the following:

  • Schedule an appointment with a neurologist to evaluate your brain injury,
  • Collect information about the value of your claim,
  • Fill out an application for a California handicap placard, and
  • Calculate the monetary value of losing your ability to drive.

Our experienced and compassionate attorneys will fight to secure a favorable settlement offer so that you can focus on your recovery. We will not hesitate to take your case to trial if necessary. Please call 866-249-2142 or message us to schedule your free initial consultation.

Visit our office nearest to you.