- The Washington Times - Monday, April 15, 2002

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) Maryland's restrictions on drivers with epilepsy are among the most lenient in the nation, according to a study by a Johns Hopkins University researcher.
Maryland is among 10 states that require those with the disease to be seizure-free for three months before they can obtain a driver's license, the study by Dr. Gregory Krauss showed.
Twenty-nine states have seizure-free requirements ranging from six to 12 months before a driver's license can be issued. Other states have systems allowing for individual flexibility, according to the study published in the November issue of the medical journal Neurology.
Another Krauss study, published in Neurology in April 1999, concluded that tougher restrictions reduced the chances of an epileptic driver getting into an accident by as much as 93 percent.
"Three months didn't markedly reduce the odds of crashing, but six to 12 months markedly did," Dr. Krauss said.
The issue was raised in the state General Assembly after the deaths last month of Frederick city operations chief Rodney B. Pulliam and his three sons. The four died when their stopped car was rear-ended by a driver who told police he had epilepsy and had experienced seizure symptoms before the crash.
Delegate Sue Hecht, a Democrat who represents parts of Frederick and Washington counties, has requested a report by July 1 from the Motor Vehicle Administration on Maryland's licensing laws for people with epilepsy and other potentially debilitating medical conditions.
The Epilepsy Foundation of America, based in Landover, opposes across-the-board, seizure-free requirements for driver licensing, but recognizes that some states feel they are necessary. In those cases, the foundation says, Wisconsin's law is reasonable. It requires a three-month seizure-free period, followed by doctor reports every six months for people who have been seizure-free less than two years. After that, medical reports must be submitted annually until the person has been seizure-free for five years.
More restrictive rules may discourage people from self-reporting their epilepsy, said Alexandra Finucane, the foundation's vice president of legal and government affairs.
"If the rules are fair, people are more likely to comply with the law as they should," Miss Finucane said.
Dr. Krauss said he favored a flexible, six-month policy used by states including Massachusetts. In that state, the suspension period can be reduced on a physician's recommendation to three months for patients with mild conditions.

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