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Introduced by   Representatives Grad of Moretown, Chen of Mendon, Keogh of Burlington and Masland of Thetford

Referred to Committee on


Subject:  Motor vehicles; operator’s license; medical and disability suspension; physicians and optometrists

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to authorize the commissioner of motor vehicles to appoint physicians, including ophthalmologists and optometrists, to examine operators of motor vehicles prior to the issuance of a license suspension based on medical disability.  The bill also indemnifies and authorizes per diem payment to the appointed physicians and optometrists when they are working on behalf of the state.


It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  Purpose

It is the purpose of this act to allow the appointment of independent medical examiners to assist the department of motor vehicles in reviewing cases of Vermonters whose fitness to drive is of concern.  There is a rising number of Vermonters who are aging, disabled, or otherwise medically challenged, and an impartial review of individual cases by the department, with the assistance of qualified professionals, is essential to the protection of the public.  To this end, volunteer medical examiners would be appointed by the commissioner of motor vehicles to assist the department.  After a review by the medical examiners, the department would be authorized to restrict licenses to allow driving privileges under safe conditions, whenever possible, instead of revoking licenses altogether.  Recommendations may also be made for periodic medical reexamination or periodic road tests, or both, of drivers, as needed, to ensure that a driver with a progressive medical condition has the capability to continue to drive safely.

Sec. 2.  23 V.S.A. § 671a is added to read:


(a)  The commissioner of motor vehicles is authorized to appoint physicians, including ophthalmologists and optometrists, to examine licensed motor vehicle operators prior to the suspension of an operator’s license for medical reasons.

(b)  Those appointed pursuant to the provisions of subsection (a) of this section may make recommendations to the commissioner regarding continuing operation of motor vehicles by those with medical disabilities.  The commissioner is authorized to act on those recommendations in any manner he or she sees fit.

(c)  A civil action shall not lie against an appointed medical examiner performing authorized duties unless the conduct which is the subject matter of the action is determined to be grossly negligent.  The state of Vermont shall have an affirmative duty to defend any claim against an appointed medical examiner based upon activities related to a medical examination and recommendations made under this section.

(d)  An affirmative defense to civil lawsuits under this section may be raised when:

(1)  The defendant was a licensed physician, including an ophthalmologist or optometrist, whose conduct conformed to accepted medical or optometric practice for the area;

(2)  At the time of the alleged misconduct, the defendant was engaged by the department to determine if a licensed motor vehicle operator had a medical or optometric condition that justified the commissioner suspending or limiting the operator’s license; and

(3)  Gross negligence has not been shown by the plaintiff.

Sec. 3.  32 V.S.A. § 1010(a) is amended to read:


(a)  Except for those members serving ex officio or otherwise regularly employed by the state, the compensation of the members of the following boards shall be $50.00 per diem:

* * *

(32)  Physicians, including ophthalmologists and optometrists, who are authorized by the commissioner of motor vehicles to examine licensed motor vehicle operators pursuant to the provisions of 23 V.S.A. § 671a.

Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont