KUSA - A state lawmaker has sparked a debate about how the state should monitor who is and isn't healthy enough to drive.
State Rep. Don Coram (R-Montrose) started with strong language to strengthen Colorado's laws in this area, but tells 9NEWS he plans to amend his bill after hearing vocal concerns from the medical community.
As originally drafted, the bill (HOUSE BILL 14-1068) requires doctors to report the diagnosis within 7 days after learning that a patient is afflicted with a "loss, interruption, or lapse of consciousness or motor function."
The department would then cancel the driver's license of the person reported and doctors could face penalties for failing to report.
Doctors balked at the idea of mandatory reporting, arguing that it would result in fewer reports to the DMV because patients will be afraid to share their symptoms if they know their license will automatically be revoked.
"If a patient comes in who's had a seizure and is asked about their history," said Dr. John Bender, president of the Colorado Medical Society. "They won't tell the doctor."
The argument offered by CMS is debatable.
Pennsylvania, for instance requires mandatory reporting of medical conditions.
That state's DMV reports receiving more than 22,000 medical reports per year, about half of which result in the loss of driving privileges. That's roughly 11,000 drivers taken off the roads for medical reasons.
Pennsylvania has only about 2.5 times the population of Colorado, but received roughly 15 times the number of medical reports through its mandatory reporting program.
Colorado's DMV took just short of 1,500 voluntary reports last year for medical and vision concerns.
Regardless, Corum's amendment to be offered Tuesday in the bill's first hearing would do away with the mandatory duty to report these conditions to the DMV.
Instead, Corum plans an incentive: doctors who do report medical conditions will gain immunity from court action in the event a patient is involved in an accident.
The idea for the bill comes in direct response to a car crash that happened in Thornton on February 17, 2011.
That crash killed the Stollsteimers-- all five of them.
Randy and Crystal Dawn Stollsteimer and their three young boys died when their car was hit by another that came darting at them going nearly 100 miles per hour.
The driver of the other car was Monica Chavez.
"We were just driving home. I don't remember what happened," Chavez said in a police interview shown in court.
Chavez suffered an apparent seizure at the time of the 2011 crash and she'd had them before.
Prosecutors charged her with negligent homicide, saying an ER doctor had told her to see a specialist before driving again.
However, she had talked to other doctors since and hadn't been having problems before the crash.
The jury found her not guilty on all counts.
"I just don't see how it's possible to kill 5 people and just walk out and never serve a day in jail," Alejandro Aldaco, a relative of the Stollsteimers, told 9NEWS on the day the verdict came back.
"I think it was absolutely preventable," Corum said. "Had we had a system in which she was well aware that she is not able to drive under those conditions."
That's why Corum wants to strengthen the system.
On the other side of this issue you have patients with diseases that might very well fall under this bill, who are able to drive.
One day Donna Miller had an epiphany while preparing a meal at home. She realized she could peeling potatoes like she used to.
An unremarkable task to most of us, meant a lot to her.
"It was just a little thing that came back, but it was lots of little things," Miller said.
Miller has Parkinson's disease. With a brain surgery called DBS, she's greatly improved her motor function.
"I'll put my driving record up against anybody's," said Miller, who regularly drives to a support group for people getting the same treatment.
She's much better now, but she still has Parkinson's.
Asked if the disease affects her driving, Miller replied, "it could. Does it? No. It could."
If that happens, she says, she or her doctor will put an end to her driving days.
But she doesn't want to be forced into it.