- Associated Press - Monday, February 16, 2015

HONOLULU (AP) - The Hawaii board of doctors that reviews driver’s license applications for disabled and elderly drivers has been unable to fill four of its five seats, preventing more than 100 would-be drivers from getting their licenses on Oahu in the last six months.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported (https://bit.ly/1DztLf2 ) Monday that 16-year-old Case McKinley, who has cerebral palsy, hasn’t been able to fulfill his desire to get his learner’s permit like most of his friends.

“It’s freedom, you know,” McKinley said at his home in Pupukea after riding a bus home from school at Waialua High & Intermediate School, where he is a sophomore with a 3.8 GPA while taking advanced placement courses. “I want it really, really badly. Freedom - independence - for me is huge. So I’m just really frustrated.”

In May, McKinley applied for a learner’s permit at the Kapolei Department of Motor Vehicles, where he said a clerk saw him walking awkwardly and told him he needed medical clearance from his doctor to drive, which McKinley later obtained.

On Aug. 13 - his 16th birthday - McKinley went to the DMV to check on the status of his application and said he got stonewalled. So McKinley protested by refusing to leave until he said a Honolulu police officer arrived and ordered DMV officials to show McKinley his file. That’s when McKinley first learned that the state Department of Transportation has a Medical Advisory Board that must approve his application to the DMV, a city agency.

But the volunteer board only currently has one of five doctors. It’s one of more than 170 state boards with more than 200 vacancies, said Cindy McMillan, spokeswoman for Gov. David Ige.

“Some boards are easier to fill, but this particular board is very difficult because it’s made up of all doctors,” McMillan said. “And they can’t just be any doctor. They have to be specialists.”

The lone member of the board, Dr. Dennis Crowley, has been serving since July 2007. Until August, the board had always had a minimum of three members to hold a quorum, but it was rare that it had all five members, he said. The terms of two members expired in August, and no monthly meeting has been held since due to lack of a quorum, Crowley said.

“We were trying to get these cases through because we know there’s a need,” Crowley said. “Obviously, we had to stop. We can’t operate without a quorum, and we do recognize that. Since then, that’s when these 100 cases have backed up.”

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