Saturday, September 19, 2009

drivers license - seizure disorder - conclusive v. rebuttable presumption

Peachey v. PennDOT - Cmwlth. Court - August 13, 2009

Following DOT v. Clayton, 684 A.2d 1060 (Pa. 1996), the court rejected the irrebutable presumption created by 75 Pa. C.S. 1519(c) and 67 Pa. Code 83.4 that a person who has had a seizure is not competent to drive until s/he has been free from seizures for a least 6 months.

In this case, a doctor wrote and testified that the driver had not been diagnosed with episodes of loss of consciousness that would interfere with the safe operation of a car, and that he did not think it was appropriate to apply the 6-month rule to this particular driver.

As the court had done in Clayton, the court here rejected DOT's arguments that driving in a right and not a privilege and rejected the irrebuttable presumption created by the regulation, noting that procedural due process required a "meaningful hearing" which included consideration of all evidence essential to a decision about a licensee's ability to drive safely. " '[S]ince the competency to drive is the paramount factor behind the instant regulations, any hearing which eliminates consideration of that very factor is violative of procedural due process.' "