A report from The Huffington Post examines the regulations regarding individuals with narcolepsy driving motor vehicles and the precautions they need to take to drive safely.
Each state has its own laws about the health conditions that can prevent resident from getting a license, as well as whether those conditions must be disclosed on the license itself.
Scannell, who lives in Rhode Island, was able to get a driver’s license, and doesn’t have to disclose on it that she has narcolepsy. Other states require narcoleptic drivers to be medicated and symptom-free for a certain period of time before they can obtain a license: For example, that period is a whole year in New York, but it’s just 90 days in Kentucky.
Treatment is the key to people with narcolepsy driving safely, sleep experts say. People with narcolepsy usually take a combination of stimulants and antidepressants to combat daytime sleepiness. The prescriptions are customized to the patient, Scannell said.
“Treated narcoleptic patients can drive safely,” said Dr. Emmanuel Mignot, a sleep researcher at Stanford University. “They have to take precautions, like napping before driving, not taking long drives that require stops, pulling over if sleepy, avoiding driving alone, and having emergency medication on hand for an emergency.”