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Driving and diabetes

People with diabetes have the right to be assessed for a license to drive a motor vehicle on an individual basis in accordance with Diabetes Canada guidelines for private and commercial driving. Please see Diabetes Canada's full position statement on driving and licensing.

Recommendations for private and commercial drivers are presented in Chapter 21 of the Diabetes Canada 2018 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada.

As a rule, anyone applying for a driver’s license must disclose any disability or disease, including diabetes, which may interfere with the safe operation of a motor vehicle.

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you may certainly keep driving, provided you are medically fit to do so. Provincial motor vehicle licensing authorities can require licensed drivers to be examined for their medical fitness to drive.

Sometimes, diabetes and its complications can affect driving performance due to:

  • impaired sensory or motor function;
  • diabetic eye disease;
  • nerve damage;
  • kidney disease;
  • cardiovascular disease;
  • peripheral vascular disease and stroke; and
  • incidents of hypoglycemia.

You should not have difficulty obtaining and maintaining a license if you:

  • properly manage your diabetes;
  • can recognize and treat the early symptoms of hypoglycemia; and
  • do not have complications that may interfere with your ability to drive.

In most jurisdictions, doctors are required to report anyone they consider medically unfit to drive. Related to diabetes, this could include someone who:

  • is not recognizing the early symptoms of hypoglycemia (called hypoglycemia unawareness);
  • experienced a severe hypoglycemic reaction; and
  • is not managing his/her diabetes responsibly.

The motor vehicle licensing authority has the ability to both issue and suspend your driver’s license. It may be suspended as a result of an accident caused by a hypoglycemia or if your doctor reports that you are medically unfit to drive.

The Medical Review Section of the licensing authority reviews each case to determine whether a license will be reinstated. The Medical Review Section will request a report from a diabetes specialist, as well as records of self-monitored blood glucose readings. Other reports or documents may also be required to reinstate a license.

Commercial Vehicle Licensing

Canadians with diabetes can be licensed to drive a commercial vehicle in Canada if medical standards can be met. Motor vehicle licensing authorities require a greater level of medical fitness for drivers operating passenger vehicles (e.g. buses/commercial vans), transport trucks and emergency vehicles.

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