How do I take the keys away from an alcoholic parent?

4 answers | Last updated: Oct 19, 2016
Sunshine peach asked...

My mother is a 79 year old alcoholic and she continues to drive when drinking. Her car is in her name. What can I do to get her license revoked and her car sold?

Expert Answers

Elizabeth Dugan, a Fellow of the Gerontology Institute, University of Massachusetts Boston, is the author of Driving Dilemma: The Complete Resource Guide for Older Drivers and Their Families.

This is a tough situation, I'm sorry you have to deal with it. I'm going to assume that you have tried to talk to her to convince her not to drink and drive, and that has not been successful. Drinking and driving is deadly -- especially for older drivers because our bodies get less efficient at processing alcohol so the impact of it is amplified.

Taking the next steps may be uncomfortable because they involve local legal authorities. I recommend that you make an appointment with the local police to explain the situation and to ask for their help. Work together as partners to keep her and the roads safe. Second, I suggest that you check to see what the procedure in her state is for "medical reporting". All state licensing authorities permit the submission of reports of medically unfit drivers. Clearly, substance abuse threatens driving fitness. The medical report may trigger evaluation or immediate licensing action.

Again, I'm sorry you are faced with this hard situation. Know that you are doing what you have to -- to protect her and others on the road.

Community Answers

Jacky33 answered...

im facing same problem, hubby has sever heart trouble a list a mile long, thinks he able to drive, had to hide keys, that made him mad as hell''dr wont help me for med.reasons to take lic, from him, so guess i chat with dept of lic,,,,see what steps i can do, on ox2, etc'''

so good luck,


Revyarb answered...

My recommendation is to not take the keys because the keys are the last symbol of independence, nor would I involve the authorities at this point. I would simply and very discreetly disable the automobile when she is away or asleep. A simple major fuse or spark plug wire. If you know the mechanic that she may call simply call him and advise on the situation not to repair the problem. Soon it will dissolve.

Hopefullyhelping answered...

You apparently don't get the power of an alcoholic to find ways to drive... he will call a mechanic, a neighbor, ask a stranger.... he will get the car running! My step father, age 85, continues to drink and drive and has been involved in accidents, with my mother in the car - they are still both living in denial. She has threatened to go with him on his "errands" -- nothing lasts. She believes she can love him into sobriety! I have had to step away, years of trying to help her see the truth have been futile and I am left with praying he does not kill innocent people as he continues to drink and drive. I am considering contacting the police in his community.... seems desperate but I feel desperate!