Apr 4, 2023

AES Supports CA Senate Bill 357

Dear Senator Portantino: I am writing on behalf of the members of the American Epilepsy Society to express our steadfast support for SB 357, a bill that aims to protect a therapeutic clinician-patient relationship by granting physicians more latitude when reporting patients to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in California. It also aims to remove language from the Vehicle Code that discriminates against specific conditions, including epilepsy.

The American Epilepsy Society is the primary national professional society for epilepsy specialists. Our nearly 5,000 members are professionals engaged in the understanding, diagnosis, study, prevention, treatment, and cure of epilepsy. Our membership includes physicians, advanced practice providers, allied health professionals, and researchers spanning the basic, translational, and clinical areas.

California is one of only six states that has yet to modernize their laws affecting drivers with epilepsy. These outdated laws discriminate against drivers with epilepsy by mandating clinicians report these drivers to the DMV, with little regard for seizure frequency, control, or severity. According to research, in states with mandated clinician reporting, patients may be apprehensive to seek care for fear of losing their licenses, which can lead to withholding important information from their clinician. In California, according to a 2003 study1 by the American Academy of Neurology, 16 percent of patients who never had their licenses suspended and 50 percent of patients who previously had their licenses suspended withheld information from their clinician. According to the findings of another study, patients with epilepsy “were six times more likely to compromise their own medical care in favor of driving illegally (49% vs 8%) serving neither the publics nor the patient’s safety interests.”2 When a person with epilepsy withholds such important information from their clinician, they may significantly compromise their healthcare access and risk an increase in seizure activity. Epilepsy is a life-threatening condition, especially when untreated or undertreated.

The American Epilepsy Society supports discretionary clinician reporting of individuals with medical conditions that may impact driving competence and feels strongly that mandated reporting of all cases of epilepsy is inappropriate. This position is elaborated on in a 1994 consensus statement3 jointly written by the American Epilepsy Society, the American Academy of Neurology, and the Epilepsy Foundation. Discretionary reporting would allow clinicians the latitude to report a patient’s driving-related condition to driving authorities when it appears that the condition might pose a safety risk to the patient or others. Mandatory reporting requirements may have a negative effect on the patient–clinician relationship leading a patient to feel pressured to hide critical medical information, potentially leading to more uncontrolled seizures, which may pose a greater risk to public safety.

Patients and clinicians must be able to communicate in a safe and trusted environment. By reforming the state law to make reporting discretionary, SB 357 seeks to maintain appropriate public safety standards without jeopardizing access to care for individuals with epilepsy and other conditions.

Thank you for your continued leadership on this issue.


Manisha N. Patel, PhD, FAES, President of AESManisha N. Patel, PhD, FAES
President, American Epilepsy Society


1 Rodrigues K, Fisher RS. Mandatory reporting of seizures can have negative impact. American Academy of Neurology press release, April 2, 2003. Available at: https://www.aan.com/PressRoom/home/PressRelease/133. Accessed: March 28, 2023

2 Salinsky MC, Wegener K, Sinnema F Epilepsy, Driving Laws, and Patient Disclosure to Physicians. Epilepsia 1992;33:469–472

3 Consensus statements, sample statutory provisions, and model regulations regarding driver licensing and epilepsy. American Academy of Neurology, American Epilepsy Society, and Epilepsy Foundation of America. (1994). Epilepsia, 35(3), 696–705. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1528-1157.1994.tb02495.x

April 4, 2023

The Honorable Anthony J. Portantino
California State Senate
1021 O Street
Suite 7630
Sacramento, CA

RE: SB 357 (Portantino) – SUPPORT