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Pennsylvania among states that restrict driving after seizure

Epilepsy is a condition diagnosed after the patient has experienced more than one seizure. The underlying seizures can take many forms, from mild to severe, and have many different root causes.

Many people, but not all, are able to control their epilepsy with medication. This is a personal medical issue, but in one way, an individual’s seizures are a public concern: whether or not the individual is able to drive safely.

Most states have laws regarding how long a person is supposed to stop driving after experiencing a seizure. The wait ranges from three months to two years of being seizure-free. Exceptions exist for cases where the seizures do not raise the risk of a car accident, such as when the seizures only happen when the person is asleep.

How do authorities find out that someone should not be driving due to a seizure? A few states, including Pennsylvania, require doctors to report patients who have had a seizure. But critics believe this could encourage patients to hide their seizures from their doctors, thus risking their health.

Of course, nobody with epilepsy gets behind the wheel expecting to have a seizure on the road and get into a crash. But driving represents independence and self-sufficiency for most of us. Giving that up permanently would likely be very difficult, even for those struggling to control their condition.

In cases where a medical event contributes to a car accident, one question that arises is whether the driver who had the emergency was aware of their condition, and had taken reasonable steps to keep others on the road safe in case of an episode.

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