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Information for health practitioners

From 8 November 2018, registered nurses and nurse practitioners, working within their scope of practice, can now issue medical and eyesight certificates for driver licensing. 

Find out more about changes to the health practitioners that can issue certificates

Where a person has a medical condition that affects their ability to drive safely, they are a risk to other road users as well as themselves. While difficult to quantify, medical conditions are a contributing factor in crashes that cause death and injury on New Zealand roads.

As a practitioner, you play an important role in helping to reduce the risk of harm on the roads by determining whether a person is fit to drive.

Who must have a medical certificate?

Some drivers must have a medical or eyesight certificate to apply for or renew a driver licence or endorsement – drivers who:

  • are applying for or renewing a heavy vehicle licence (class 2,3,4,5) and who’ve not provided a certificate within the last five years
  • are applying for or renewing endorsements for passengers (P), vehicle recovery services (V), driving instruction (I) or testing (O) and who’ve not provided a certificate within the last five years
  • have a medical condition that may affect their ability to drive safely
  • are 75 years old or more and applying for or renewing any licence or endorsement
  • we have asked to provide one.

The evidence we require is a medical or eyesight certificate:

  • supplied by New Zealand registered health practitioner(optometrists, ophthalmologists, general practitioners, registered nurses, nurse practitioners, neurologists and occupational therapist driving assessors)
  • not more than 60 days old.

Use the guide for medical assessments

Placing licensing restrictions on a driver is a serious matter. But so are the consequences of allowing someone to continue to drive if they are unfit to do so.

We’ve produced Medical aspects of fitness to drive: a guide for health practitioners [PDF, 1.1 MB] to set out your responsibilities and guide you in assessing a person’s fitness to drive.

Have concerns about an older driver?

If you’re satisfied that an older person (75 years+) is medically fit but have concerns about their ability to drive safely, you can recommend that they sit an On-road Safety Test.

Simply tick the box for this recommendation on the NZ Transport Agency pre-printed medical form. The driver licensing agent will then arrange the test when the person presents their medical certificate.

Conditions you can recommend

You can recommend conditions to be imposed on a driver’s licence to improve their driving safety. Commonly imposed conditions include:

  • Correcting lenses must be worn at all times while driving.
  • Only vehicles with an automatic transmission may be driven.
  • Vehicle must have rear view mirrors on both sides.
  • Must not drive during the hours of darkness.

We’re here to help

While you have a responsibility for making recommendations about licence conditions, we have the responsibility of imposing them. If you have any concerns about a particular case, please write to our Chief Medical Adviser at the Transport Agency's Palmerston North Office

Changes to health practitioners that can issue certificates

The Land Transport Act 1998 and associated Driver Licensing Rule previously limited fitness to drive assessments to general practitioners, optometrists and occupational therapists.

Under law changes that came into effect on 8 November 2018 appropriately qualified nurse practitioners and registered nurses, working within their scope of practice, will also be able to carry out a fitness to drive assessment.

These changes were enacted by the Land Transport Amendment Act 2016. For example, references in section 18 of the Land Transport Act to a 'medical practitioner or optometrist' are replaced by 'health practitioner'.

This change reflects New Zealand's changing health care environment and recognises that, for example, appropriately qualified and competent nurse practitioners and specialist registered nurses have the expert clinical knowledge and skills to assess fitness to drive.

Scope of practice is defined in the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003.

Section 8 of that Act makes it clear that health practitioners must:

  • have a current practising certificate issued by the responsible authority (such as the Nursing Council of New Zealand)
  • not practise outside their scope of practice unless permitted to do so by the scope of practice
  • perform that service in accordance with any conditions stated in the scope of practice.

Responsible authorities are responsible for defining scopes of practice, which can include a description of tasks commonly performed by that profession (section 11 of that Act).

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