No one likes watching their parents grow older. And no one wants to clip their parents’ wings and take away their car keys, especially when driving is synonymous with independence for most Americans. But if your parent (or grandparent) gets his or her license suspended from either a doctor or police officer, it’s time to seriously evaluate if your parent is still fit to drive and what options are available.
Learn Who Suspended the Driver’s License and Why
Because driving is integral to your parent’s sense of independence, it’s important to investigate the reasons behind a license suspension before you take your parent’s keys away permanently. If a police officer suspended the license, figure out the cause and determine whether you think the incident is common for your parent or an outlier. Say, for example, if your parent does not have a history of driving under the influence, but did so one time on, it stands to reason that your parent is probably still fit to drive and you should contact a DUI Lawyer. But if your parent has a history of running red lights, dangerous lane changes, or slow reaction times, then maybe it’s time for you and your parent to work together to sell their car to a car dealership and find a safer means of transportation.
If a doctor suspended your parent’s driver’s license for medical reasons, discover whether the reason is permanent or temporary. And if you feel the doctor’s recommendation is false, seek a second doctor for another evaluation and recommendation.
Challenge the Suspension
Depending on the above circumstances, you need to either fight to have your parent’s driver’s license reinstated or accept the suspension as permanent. If you seek to fight the suspension you will need to petition a re-examination hearing from your local department of transportation. It’s a lengthy process, so read up on it so you understand what you’re doing. If you choose to challenge the suspension, you may want to consider consulting a lawyer, especially in the case of a DUI.
Or Concede the Suspension
If you feel your parent is not fit to drive and you do not wish to challenge the suspended license, it’s time to have one the most difficult conversations you will probably have with your parent.
No one likes dealing with the reality of growing older, especially when that reality fundamentally changes your sense of self and autonomy. Your parents are no different than the rest of us. So it is very important that you approach this conversation, or series of conversations, with empathy, tact and love.
Help Your Parents with this Life Transition
Depending on how far your parent lives from family and friends who have the time and means to support him or her, this conversation about car keys may also shift into a bigger conversation about the sustainability of your parent’s living conditions and the prospect of finding a facility that offers senior assisted living.
It is very unlikely that these major life decisions will be decided in one conversation. There is always a mourning period during major life transitions, and it’s important that you respect your parent’s grief — and all the feelings that come with it — during these difficult conversations. And because you are instigating this life transition, you may feel you’re the target of many of your parent’s negative feelings. These feelings will pass as you help your parent navigate his or her new normal.
It is important that you try to help your parents maintain their sense of independence for as long as possible by finding communities that support them and helping them build new routines. Just because your parent can’t drive anymore doesn’t mean he or she is suddenly incapable of living vibrant and fulfilling lives. And it is important that you help your parents do this too.