Some people who sustain a traumatic brain injury in a motor vehicle accident are not eager to get behind the wheel of a vehicle again. However, driving is important for your integration into your community and sense of independence.
If you are willing to attempt driving again, your injury need not automatically preclude you from it. However, because the resulting damage to your brain may affect your driving skills, you may have to demonstrate your ability.
How common is it for people to return to driving following TBI?
According to the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center, a moderate to severe brain injury may not necessarily prevent you from driving, as 40% to 60% of patients so affected eventually return to it. Nevertheless, you may not be able to drive as often as you used to, or under all the same conditions. If your injury has affected some of your driving skills, you may place voluntary limitations on yourself to prevent accidents. The state of Washington may also place restrictions on your license.
How do you regain your driving privileges?
According to the Washington State Legislature, the Department of Motor Vehicles has a responsibility to evaluate anyone that it has reason to believe has a condition that could affect his or her driving ability. You receive the opportunity to demonstrate your ability to safely operate a vehicle despite any long-term effects of your TBI. The DMV can also ask you to obtain a statement certifying your condition from a doctor or other proper authority.
The DMV has several options based on the results of the evaluation. If it does not believe that you have adequately demonstrated your driving ability, it has the ability to withhold the privilege. It can also place special restrictions on your license, such as limiting the kind of vehicle you can drive or requiring special mechanical devices to aid in the operation.