One of the most difficult conversations to have is with a parent, grandparent or elderly spouse who has – through aging or age-related losses – become a danger to others on the road is the “give-up-the-car-keys” conversation. In the U.S.A., we have a deep emotional attachment to driving. Driving equals freedom. When the elderly consider this loss of independence, particularly in rural and sub-urban areas where good public transportation is lacking, they will resist giving up the keys even when they recognize their own physical or mental barriers to safe driving (which they often don’t). When this happens, what is a son/daughter/spouse to do?
First, let’s be clear on the legal duty. The family member of an elderly person who may be unfit to drive has no legal duty – or even the right — to take the keys away (unless they have legal guardianship of the elderly person). But family members have the right – but not the duty — to report the elderly family member’s suspected inability to safely drive to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). From there, DMV will take over.
But should you snitch on grandma?