Annette Martinez had a “wake-up call from God,” but that call is
now affecting her driving privileges.
“It is such pain to depend on other people,” Martinez said. “Our
society wants immediate gratification. I never gave jumping into a
car a second thought.”
Like many others with driving restrictions, Martinez can’t jump
into her car anymore because of an unexpected seizure she had on
Jan. 1. She is not allowed to drive for six months. Martinez thinks
the seizure might have been the result of poisoning from aspartame,
a sugar substitute used in things like diet sodas.
Martinez, a first-grade teacher, and her two sons were driving
home from a day of errands when she started to swerve off the road.
When Martinez began to seizure, her oldest son Jose, 19, had to
move her foot off the accelerator and push down on the brake with
his left hand while maneuvering the wheel with his right hand.
“Thinking quick and staying calm saved our lives,” Martinez
Martinez’s younger son Julio, 15, kept her head stable while
they moved the car into a turning lane before calling 911.
CSU Police Department Cpl. Rodney Smith said situations like
this might happen more often than people think.
“The cause of the accident might go unreported,” Smith said.
“The person might even die.”
Smith said a person might be charged with careless driving if an
accident results from a health-related accident. The officer at the
scene would than require that person to visit the Department of
Revenue and a doctor.
Wes Haynes, an officer for Fort Collins Police Services, said
police could ticket drivers for violating restrictions on their
“Violations vary from fines to jail time,” Haynes said.
“Sometimes (health-related accidents) are just unfortunate.”
Legally speaking, an employer or parent may be held liable.
“It comes down to the question of what should they have
reasonably known,” said Robert Irving, an attorney at the R. S.
Irving Law Firm of Fort Collins.
According to Doug Barbee, the regional manager in the Department
of Motor Vehicles within the Department of Revenue, if a person
claims to have a medical problem that might conflict with their
driving ability, the DMV gives them a form to take to a doctor. The
doctor then decides what the driving limitations are on a personal
“It comes up quite frequently,” said Dr. Marilu Orozco-Peterson
of Heritage Family Medicine, 363 W. Drake Road # 9.
Orozco-Peterson thinks people with moderate dementia should have
some driving restrictions. Also medication that can cause
sleepiness might lead to driving issues.
“(Curing problems) depends on the condition,” Orozco-Peterson
said. “Sometimes we can work around medication and deal with the
Orozco-Peterson thinks her profession has an interesting
“Of course our first job is to help our patients,” she said.
“But we are also protecting the public welfare. We have a greater
call for public safety.”