In the United States, individual states grant a driver’s license (or learner’s permit), making the requirements to obtain a driver’s license potentially different in each state. Some states require you disclose that you have narcolepsy and undergo a medical examination. Many other states have no specific driving laws regarding narcolepsy.
Thankfully, most states do not have severe restrictions on obtaining a drivers license simply because you have narcolepsy, idiopathic hypersomnia, or another sleep disorder. For a map and summary of the relevant laws by state please visit the Narcolepsy Network’s interactive map.
A few legal tidbits in the US you should be aware of if you drive:
- Do not drive while sleepy – It may be considered legally negligent to do so if you are involved in an accident.
- If you feel impaired by a medication, again, do not drive.
- If you carry controlled medication (most stimulants and sleeping medications) in your car or on your person, keep the medication in the prescription bottles or request your pharmacist print another prescription label for you to carry. If you are searched and found to have loose pills, the officer is probably going to suspect that you do not have a prescription and you can save yourself a legal nightmare by simply keeping medications in their bottles.
- If you are pulled over, obey the officer and be respectful. Note, however, if an officer asks to search you or your vehicle, you do not have to consent to the search. If you do consent to a search, you waive your constitutional rights. If the officer decides to search anyway, do not argue and obey their instructions and allow them to search. If the search is later determined to be unwarranted, you will have retained your constitutional rights against unreasonable search and seizure and anything they find will be inadmissible in court.