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Woman Fell When Ordered by DMV to Walk Without Cane: Lawsuit

Applicant broke her wrist, and now the state faces a civil rights lawsuit
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 12, 2019 5:19 PM CST
Updated Dec 13, 2019 1:30 AM CST
Stock photo.   (Getty/KatarzynaBialasiewicz)

(Newser) – Mary Wobschall, 78, had her eyesight tested before going to renew her driver's license. Her vision was fine, so she wouldn't need corrective lenses to drive. Then she and her husband went to a Wisconsin DMV office, where an examiner told her to walk across the lobby without the cane she had used since a double knee transplant. She wasn't expecting that. Her husband, Ronald, asked what walking without a cane had to do with renewing her driver's license, but the staff member was adamant, USA Today reports. His wife tried to do it, but she fell and broke her wrist. Her license renewal was denied, and the examiner at the West Bend branch handed her a document saying she wouldn't be able to renew until she'd had a general medical examination "due to fall at DMV + confusion."

After surgery on her wrist, Mary Wobschall died of causes unrelated to her fall. Her estate has filed a civil rights lawsuit over her DMV experience. Forcing applicants to show they can walk without a cane or other device violates the ADA and other protections, the suit contends. In any event, the lawsuit argues, a DMV examiner lacks the qualifications to decide whether applicants have physical conditions that keep them from safely operating a vehicle. If an applicant, in the staffer's opinion, should see a medical professional, they're supposed to be given a temporary license good for 60 days, the suit says. Ronald Wobschall says his wife was not, and was told she had to renew her license by the end of the month or lose it. A spokesperson said that because the case is pending, the state would not discuss the suit. (The Senior Open rejected John Daly's request to use a golf cart under the ADA last year.)

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