If my 85 year old has dementia, what if anything can we do to prevent him legally and/or physically from driving a motor vehicle?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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If my 85 year old has dementia, what if anything can we do to prevent him legally and/or physically from driving a motor vehicle?

In addition to dementia, his sight in one eye is only 20. His physical reaction time is definitely diminished, etc. Can we take away his vehicle somehow. He has already lost the keys several times, and has a locksmith come make him a new one. He has also failed a driving test ordered by a physician. We are terribly concerned that he will become involved in an accident if he drives. We do not

wish to see him or anyone injured or killed because of his illness but he is highly reticent to give up his vehicle.

Asked on September 15, 2016 under General Practice, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

You can't take away his vehicle or restrain him from driving--such would be a crime (theft; kidnapping, which can be any restraint on someone's movement; etc)--unless you have him declared mentally incompetent due to his dementia. If he is declared incompetent by a court, a guardian or conservator will be appointed (likely, but not automatically, a child) who will  have the legal authority to take away his car, the same way that a parent or legal guardian can take away their minor child's car and driving privileges.
There are also other advantages to this: a guardian can prevent him from squandering or wasting money or being defrauded--elders with dementia are often the victims of bad economic decisions and/or outright frauds.
If you want to explore this option, consult with an elder law attorney about the process and the evicence (e.g. medical reports) you would need.

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