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Lawmakers Considering If People With Seizures Should Be Allowed To Drive

DENVER (CBS4) – A crash that killed a Colorado family of five has sparked talk of making changes to state driving laws when it comes to people that have seizures.

Bernadette Martinez's Randy Stollsteimer, his wife Crystaldawn Stollsteimer and their three children were killed by a woman who had a seizure while driving.

"You can't even describe the feeling when you find out five members of your family were killed," said Martinez.

The driver, Monica Chavez, admitted that it wasn't her first seizure.

Her doctor testified at her trial that he had warned her not to drive but the jury acquitted her.

"We were just shocked," said Martinez.

Colorado is among a handful of states that don't require a person who has had a seizure to wait before driving again. Rep. Don Coram plans to change that.

"I think it's just strictly a matter of public safety," said Coram.

Coram introduced legislation that would compel doctors to report to the state anyone they diagnose with "a disorder causing lapse of consciousness."

The state would then cancel their drivers license until they were seizure free for at least three months.

Doctors who don't report would face a fine and/or jail time.

Dr. Ed Maa with the Epilepsy Foundation Of Colorado said the law will do more harm than good.

"If you make it mandatory to report, the likelihood that the patient ends up telling us anything is incredibly diminished," said Maa.

He said people with seizures wouldn't be the only ones impacted.

"As this bill is worded all disorders that effect awareness are covered," said Maa.

That would include people who have concussions or head trauma.

"We're certainly willing to work with the epilepsy community if there's some language we can use to clarify this," said Coram.

"We're not trying to take away anybody's privilege of driving but it is a privilege," Martinez said.

Martinez started an online petition urging lawmakers to pass the bill, saying lives are at stake.

"I don't want anybody to go through this and that's all we're trying to do is prevent this from happening," said Martinez.

Six other states have similar laws.

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