Federal Judge Allows Lawsuit by Disability Rights NC to Proceed Against the NC DMV

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Tags: Press Release

Raleigh, NC: Yesterday, US District Court Judge Terrence Boyle denied the NC Division of Motor Vehicle’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit that alleges it systemically discriminates against people with disabilities. This ruling could have widespread implications for drivers with disabilities. The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by drivers with disabilities who were subjected to unnecessary road testing and medical exams based on stereotypes and generalizations about people with physical disabilities.

The DMV Medical Review Program is a mechanism for the DMV to identify unsafe drivers. Doctors, family members, and others may suggest that a driver is no longer capable of safely driving, and the DMV may require that individual to undergo medical screening. However, the DMV has extended the program to drivers, like the Plaintiffs in the case, who are capable, safe drivers but who have a physical disability. Each individual Plaintiff was referred for testing or medical review by DMV staff based on the DMV’s policies regarding drivers with disabilities.

In moving to dismiss the case, the DMV contended that licensed drivers with disabilities should not be permitted to challenge the DMV’s imposition of additional testing and medical review because the drivers have not proven they are qualified. Because licensed drivers are qualified to drive, Judge Boyle concluded that “the issue is whether the actions taken by the state, after issuance of a driver’s license, are discriminatory in nature.”

“Today’s decision means that drivers with disabilities will get their day in court,” said Vicki Smith, Executive Director of Disability Rights NC. “Through this case, we expect to shine a light on a system that operates on outdated notions that people with disabilities don’t drive and work and participate in their communities.”