How do I get my husband to stop driving as the doctors say he must?

8 answers | Last updated: Jan 03, 2011
Jlvaughn61 asked...

My husband will not stop driving although doctors have told him he must. Nothing has worked! Suggestions?

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.

Find out what the process is for reporting medically impaired drivers to the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state. Ask the physician to submit the required paperwork. This should trigger a licensing action (e.g., order to surrender license, testing). You may be able to submit a report as well. Contact your local police department. More and more police departments have officers who specialize in senior issues and this law enforcement officer can be a great help.

If these steps don't work and your husband is so medically impaired that he is a threat behind the wheel, then you may have to explore ways to disable the vehicle. Some demented persons can't remember that they aren't supposed to drive and removing or disabling the vehicle is the only way to keep the roads safe.

Community Answers

Set answered...

my Mother is a very good driver but she is 84 years old and I worry when she drives long distances. What should I do?

Newby1961 answered...

I love the idea of disabling the car so he can't drive but that is not a long term answer. Call DMV as they will know how to answer your question a lot better than I could. Good luck

Liz12 answered...

We took my dad's car away by saying his grandson needed to borrow it. After a month, he never talked about his car. We kept it at our house. This worked for us. I wish I had done the same thing with my mom's car. She was going 25 miles an hour, ran a red light and was in a terrible wreck. Not only did she injure someone else, she had 9 fractures and her mind nose-dived into a stage 5 dementia. It has been four months and she has not regained her baseline. She lives in a memory unit now. If only I had taken the car away... Be strong!

The caregiver's voice answered...

Recent elder driving-related seminars point to the need to assure our loved ones that they will not lose their independence if they give up driving.


If your parent insists on driving, organize with your siblings (if you're located nearby) to take turns driving Mom or Dad wherever s/he wants to go. You may comfort Mom or Dad by saying you want to spend this time together. You might be surprised that your Mom or Dad may actually prefer you driving.

As the advice was given above, ask your doctor to report to the DMV, which will in most states result in a driver's test.

I was fortunate. My father parked his car at a hospital thinking he was attending a community seminar. When he learned there wasn't, he walked to the edge of the parking lot and took the bus home. He forgot he had driven and thought "they" impounded his car and that it would be too costly (several hundred dollars) to reclaim his car (worth several thousand). I learned of this about six months after moving my father to California when hospital security in Wisconsin called to inquire about the car.

Frena answered...

certainly notify DMV, which usually results in revoking of license. however this doesn't necessarily settle it, especially for men (sorry, guys!) some people refuse to believe they don't have a license, say no-one has the right to take it and so.

all the above suggestions work for someone.

other things families have done, is disable the car, mount it on wheelblocks and let Dad "drive" it that way. apparently this creates much happiness;

in a small town, local police will sometimes help out by reminding the person he or she's not allowed to drive any more and this can work;

getting rid of the car altogether is great because few people with dementia can get it together to go out and buy another one (although one man did)

replacing car loss with ability to get out and about is important for lots of people. local taxi service, a helpful neighbor, good friends and a paid occasional driver are all ways to do this.

the only thing NOT to do is NOTHING. accident stats on people with dementia are frightening. of every ten people with dementia who finally were stopped from driving, six out of ten had been involved in accidents, three of which caused serious injury or death, usually not to the person driving. checl out the car of any person with dementia still driving and you will usuaily find eveidence of many scrapes, bumps and tiny collisions unaccounted for.

so whatever it takes, do that. and lots of good luck.

Keith hunt answered...

Disable the car safely - and 'lose' the keys.

Ca-claire answered...

Have been working on this for 2 years with my parents. FINALLY got their Primary Care Provider to sign the appropriate paperwork for DMV (after I filled out their portion the way it needed to be filled out). Physicians, especially in CA, are concerned about lawsuits. DMV will do nothing for you. If the physicians do not stop the person from driving, DMV will let them drive. It has taken turning them in to DMV twice to get the privileges revoked for Dad. For Mom, it has taken being turned in to DMV twice, and finally a trip to the ER, where physicians seem to have no problem pulling driving privileges.