For help when talking with an at-risk driver or taking action to prevent a crash, you can consult the book, “When You Are Concerned” for helpful suggestions about talking with an at-risk older driver. It is downloadable here, or available by calling.
When a driver has dementia, the person's ability to drive should be monitored and/or evaluated
Strongly discourage someone from driving if that person is at high risk of crashing. If that person insists on driving, consider controlling their car keys, disabling the car, or taking the car away.
If talking to the driver in question does not work you can:
- Request a NYS Department of Motor Vehicles Re-evaluation of Driver Skills and Abilities using a DS-7 form. The DS-7 form can be sent by any person who has seen the driver operate a vehicle in a manner that could make the driver a danger on the highway. The person who sends the report must include their name. Form DS-7 must also be signed by the person who completes the report, and the form must be notarized.
The DS-7 report is available under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). However, the DMV does not disclose the name of the person who completed the DS-7.
DMV does not take action on DS-7 reports that are not complete or that do not include the name and signature of the person who made the report. The DMV determines any actions to take and decides each case individually.
The DMV does not accept re-evaluation requests by phone or by e-mail.
Last Resort Interventions
Visit the Alzheimer's Association website) for information including "last resort" strategies for disabling a car to prevent crashes.
We have been advised that disconnecting the battery can cause problems with some car computers, so consult with an auto expert if necessary; they may be able to advise about a safe strategy that will take into consideration the needs of the family (for example, if one family member drives safely, but another one is at high risk of crashing).
Temporarily Disabling a Vehicle
If you need to temporarily disable a vehicle, you should be able to find any of the following components under the hood. Usually they are in or under a plastic cover along the perimeter of the engine compartment; and usually marked in a manner which would indicate that fuses and other electronics are inside.
- Ignition Fuse - probably a 50 Amp fuse marked as such.
- Electronic Control Module - probably marked ECM
- Fuel Pump Module - probably marked Fuel Pump
- All are just plugged into the block you find them on, so can be removed with a minimum of pressure.
Any one of them will prevent the vehicle from starting, so by just removing one small piece and replacing the cover, you will prevent the unwanted operation of a motor vehicle, and the unsuspecting driver will be none the wiser.
Make sure that you turn the key to the "off" before proceeding, then check after to see if action was effective.
This information is brought to you by:
Bitterman's Automotive Center, Inc.
"Your Key to Quality"
7631 Transit Road
East Amherst, NY 14051-1198
Phone: (716) 688-9244