Driver’s license while still hearing and seeing things?

Removed by OP due to posting too much personal info

I think it depends on the person and the state of their illness. Aside from time spent in the hospital, I’ve driven throughout my illness and recovery. There are states that ask about mental health issues when you apply for a license in the US. It’s not an immediate dismissal, but I understand that some sort of evaluation or risk assessment is done if you declare. Often times all that’s needed is a note from your doctor that you are fit to drive, but in some states this has to be updated periodically, or it only comes up after an accident. For a time, I lived in a state that later adopted such a clause, but the wording was such I could interpret it as only applying to active illness. Insurance may be a concern in such states. For the record, my present state of residence doesn’t have such restrictions.

I don’t believe my driving was ever impaired by my illness, although where I drove, the route I took and why could be subject to delusional thinking. I even drove to a nearby city following delusional “clues” in attempt to locate the FBI and enter into a “safe house” and “witness protection program” the day I was hospitalized. So in my estimation, it’s more the unpredictability of the mobility of people with active and florid SMI that’s likely to be a problem, or if they have suicidal ideation.

Police stops are stressful even for those without a diagnosis, and I’ve had little trouble aside from a rookie cop who thought I had “failed” a sobriety test. Without going into specifics, I said I was on medication that might effect my eye movements. (People with schizophrenia often have some trouble tracking objects, our pupils sort of “bounce” at transitions during so-called saccades, and some have involuntary jitters back and forth which are called nystagmus). His partner realized I wasn’t drunk, and I truthfully informed them I hadn’t had a drink in many years. It didn’t come to it, but I would have gladly submitted to an alcohol blood test.

Since my recovery, I’m known to be quite easy-going and unflappable. Something caregivers don’t realize is that once you’ve lived with delusions and hallucinations for a while, you can become quite accomplished at projecting a calm demeanor, because you’ve kinda seen it all, and nothing much surprises you. My approach would be either to get him a learners permit and drive only in parking lots or other private areas, or find driving instruction or even take him to an amusement park and ride go carts or bumpem cars and such. And then see how it goes.


When he was first diagnosed, we asked our unmedicated son’s psychiatrist about whether or not he should continue to drive. He asked us, Does he have tickets from driving? Has he caused accidents? Does he show up with mysterious damage to his vehicle? He commented that some of our neurodiversive family members are able to drive and some aren’t able to drive.

We do make sure his license and registration are up to date and we try to make sure all of his vehicle lights are in working order. The last time he was stopped a light was out on his car - so we added that to the list of things to keep an eye on.

There were times when he would tell us he was unable to drive that day. He didn’t give a reason.

Our Family to Family teacher did let her son drive again after he was stable on his meds.


If he’s still seeing and hearing scary things then he’s not stable on his drugs. I think he has to be stabilized and that also means being able to function well on them in terms of having good motor control and cognitive ability.

Only after he’s gotten stable and completely used to his drugs would I let him drive.


I think it’s a bad idea and I would not recommend it.

Driving a car requires a lot of mental concentration, and if he is still having visual and auditory hallucinations, his ability to concentrate will be compromised.

Additionally, driving is one of the most dangerous things that we do in our lives. If he hallucinates while driving, he is at greater risk of having an accident or being involved in an accident.


As for now my son doesn’t have a car, the ones he had before he practically ruined them playing to be a mechanic; he wants to drive and I allow him only during the day when we go to the store either on the way there or back home, I don’t let him take the car because he tends to drive aimlessly (I think he was ‘following delusional clues’ as maggotbrane says) empties the tank and he got a ticket one night for crossing the red light! I learned to be careful with my keys so I keep them in my pocket all the time, since one day I had to go to work and I was ready to leave only to go outside and my car was gone!!!
I’d consider it when he’s more stable and he complies with the meds.


Removed by OP, too much info

Removed by original poster

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This strikes me as ableist, holding those with impairments to a higher standard. Do you drive with the radio on? Listen to audiobooks, podcasts etc? While talking to other passengers? While talking on the phone? Using GPS navigation systems? Have you ever texted while driving? Eaten while driving or any other of a myriad of other distractions that non-diagnosed drive with every day. The fact that infotainment systems, hands free cellphones, cup holders exist implies a certain degree of auditory and other distractions are considered acceptable risks— in fact whole industries revolve around encouraging these auditory distractions.

Have you experienced hallucinations? If not, do you have an inner voice or monologue and think through things while driving? If thoughts intrude while driving to you pull over and stop driving until it stops— or give up driving completely until your brain is drugged into submission and all internal “voices” and thinking stops?

I’m being hyperbolic to make a point. Professionals who work with people with mental (and other impairments) have a better understanding of these scenarios and can assess the risks and capabilities of those with illnesses. By all means consult with psychiatrists and other informed opinions, but base this on something other than conjecture of people with zero practical experience. No doubt similar arguments were made about drivers using hand controls, or in a few countries, drivers of the female persuasion.

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While I enjoyed the hyperbole, this part is so important. Years ago when my son’s psychiatrist and therapist agreed that my son should try working as a driver - my husband and I disagreed strongly.

After a couple of months of stress and pressure from him, after talking to his support professionals and listening to them, we gave in and it turned out to be a good decision. His work as a driver finally gave him work he could do when he was capable - instead of having to go to a job after 24 sleepless hours. He maintained his vehicle and his ratings. He felt really good about being able to work again, he was proud of his work. My apologies if you are familiar with his story, its all detailed on an old thread here somewhere.

Edited to add- I think the bottom line is that we have to keep encouraging growth.


I’ll second the sentiment of encouraging growth. I feel it’s important, as we diagnosed often do quite enough to discourage growth on our own due to avolition, fear of overstimulation or relapse or social anxiety and stigma and it stunts our growth. To have SZ or SZA is to always feel perpetually behind your peers or otherwise left behind, so even small wins or achievements can mean so much more to us as we recover.

And @Hummingbird, I didn’t see your deleted posts, but surmise my rhetoric may not have been to your liking. Sometimes my posts here are on the provocative side in an attempt to promote out-of-box or both-sides thinking. My apologies if you felt the post was over-the-top.

To put my motives into context, my life situation orbits my brother’s lack of a driver’s permit, coupled with my mother’s declining health which I fully anticipate will lead inevitably to me chauffeuring two family members who can’t or shouldn’t drive. Oh my brother knows how to drive, and he’s had many missed opportunities to continue to drive even after three DUI arrests. And still our state continues to offer accommodations for him to regain driving privileges for a hefty fee with a breathalyzer interlock and high-risk insurance. He talks about it from time to time, but the aforementioned avolition and other self-regulating or preserving functions seem to keep him of this goal. Probably a good thing unless we can get him into rehab and it sticks.

So I moved back here as “boots on the ground”, after my siblings and I struggled with remote caregiving, and while my brother with bipolar disorder’s lack of mobility and general craziness on whole is more of an impediment than asset when it comes to caring for my mother. I haven’t slept in my own bed all week due watching my mother after accompanying her to the emergency room Monday afternoon. I could go on, but suffice it to say it would sure be nice to have a brother who could drive right now.

I’ve known two other adults who never learned to drive, and third who can but doesn’t due to an anxiety disorder. For brevity, I’ll spare you their stories, but they all are/were exceptional people who found accommodations to their lack of mobility through political power, intelligence or money. Still their lack of mobility limited them socially, in job opportunities and often inconvenienced friends and family.

Now I realize there’s a difference between being distracted while learning to drive and after you’ve learned to drive. But I was super distracted when I learned to sing and act and technical aspects of my job while attending college classes, and navigate social aspects of workplace and dating and on and on. Not everything went to plan and there were of course some failures and accidents, but do I regret any of the risks I took and mistakes I made that got me to where I am now? I can’t think of many, maybe one or two instances where I inadvertently hurt others emotionally or was hurt by them. However, I can think of a myriad of opportunities for growth I missed, because I was scared or otherwise couldn’t get it together due to illness or otherwise. Those are my true regrets.

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Okay, I didn’t even mean to delete the last one! But there are distractions and then there are command hallucinations but I don’t want to say the specifics of it all.

It depends on whether he is actively psychotic or not. If he is, he can get a long ways away in a car making it more difficult, or impossible, for the police to locate him.

When my son was psychotic, we took his keys away. During periods of recovery we gave them back but worried about the effects of the meds on reaction time and judgement.

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Oh! I never meant to give that expression. My brother is also disabled. I do not believe that typical abilities are superior. I am so sorry if I have unintentionally hurt anyone’s feelings.

I only thought that she should give her son more time. I firmly believe that he will recover soon. My best wishes to him.


I do agree with you on this - our love one should not drive and he doesn’t - he does not have his drivers licence anymore, he just wasn’t able to go in and re new it at the time, it’s a personnel decision, one your love one and the family, can make, that is one of his goals, he was always a a excellent driver, and I hope one day he does❤️