How do I get my dad's friends to quit letting him drive?

4 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My dad was diagnosed with mixed dementia a year ago at that time and again few months later the doctor said he shouldn't drive anymore. He continued to drive so my aunt took his truck away so he borrows his friends cars or drives when they go together to the store. I have told them over and over that his doctor told him not to drive but they continue to let him. They lie about it now but being in a small town I know about it anyway

Expert Answers

Laura Juel is an occupational therapist at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. She works in the Outpatient Occupational Therapy Program and the Duke Driving Program for older drivers.

This is a challenging situation for both you and your family members. Dementia presents itself with "˜invisible deficits' -ones that are not readily apparent to others. Many people are able to engage in conversation and act socially appropriate around others. The hidden danger is that his doctor had concerns about his driving safety and has told him not to drive.

In many states, if a person drives against medical advice, insurance could refuse to pay for damages if they are in an accident. This may or may not mean anything to his friends and they may continue to let him drive. Here are a few options that I would recommend:

  1. Have your physician contact your state DMV and notify them of his medical condition and recommend that he is not safe to continue driving. DMV will then send a letter to your father stating that he no longer has a valid driver's license. If he is caught driving without a driver's license, he may have strict penalties. Copy this letter for his friends to see.

  2. Write a letter to your father's friends stating that under no circumstances should he operate any motor vehicle. They could be held liable if there was an accident and it was found that they allowed a person to drive their vehicle against medical advice.

DMV are the officially licensing agency. In my experience, local police may not want to help unless your dad has been officially notified by DMV that his driving privileges are revoked.

Community Answers

Barbcvm answered...

Go to the sheriff and tell him of the circumstances. He should be willing to work with you to stop your dad's driving. Maybe stopping him when he is driving and issue a warning will help. Remind your dad's so-called friends if he is in an accident they will be liable. Have the doctor send a letter to police department telling them his license has been revoked.

Ilah b. answered...

You might want to do more than a reminder letter to his friends. They must understand that their own insurance companies would REFUSE any claims for damages, injuries or DEATHS caused by their "good buddy". Please be emphatic with these friends that these disasters could then become their own liabilities, possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars and endless court actions!

They also must be made aware that his dementia stage is likely to change without any noticeable signs. He is going to lose the ability to anticipate dangerous situations and take appropriate corrective action will be diminishing. His vision and ability to determine perspective will fail without notice. He may not be able to recognize that he really sees someone who suddenly appears in front of him, or could have hallucinations about people or images that appear.

Mimm answered...

I was dealing with a stubborn father with dementia who would not give up driving. My mother (who also had dementia) would get him to drive because she could not, then after she died, the home aides would sometimes let him drive, even though they were not supposed to. Then his driver's license expired, and that was the best thing that cold have happened. (He kept saying that he needed to get his license renewed, but I knew it wasn't going to happen.) There needs to be regulations, not just doctors dispensing advise. Expecting elderly people with poor judgement to decide for themselves or listen to their families or doctors about when it's time to stop driving does not work in most cases. I personally know people who have been killed be elderly drivers who should not have been behind the wheel.