September 20, 2016

 

Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation has suspended the driver’s licence of an Ottawa woman who has post-traumatic stress disorder, even though she says her mental health doesn’t prevent her from safely operating a vehicle.

“It’s very strange because I feel like a criminal, I really do,” Marie-Julie Cosenzo said. “I have done nothing wrong.”

Cosenzo, 36, has an F-class licence because she’s a paramedic. The licence allows her to drive an ambulance and a regular passenger vehicle. Her regular five-year review of her licence arrived from the province last February.

She said the province sent her a letter this month to say her licence was being suspended, based on the information in the review the MTO received about her medical condition. The F-class licence renewal requires a checkup on her physical and psychiatric health and compels her doctor to report the information to the province.

Under the licence suspension, she can’t even drive her Pontiac Vibe legally. MTO has told her it will need her doctor to confirm three months of mental and emotional stability and confirm that any thoughts of self-harm have been treated or resolved.

Cosenzo has been on medical leave from her paramedic job with the Coopérative des Paramédics de l’Outaouais since last October, when she responded to a traumatic call for a teenager who died by suicide. She has PTSD but feels her condition has improved.

Cosenzo said her medication doesn’t affect her ability to drive and she doesn’t have episodes of road rage. She is aware of her limitations and has never taken powerful medication before driving.

Her licence suspension was a surprise to her doctor, she said.

“My psychologist was furious because it’s hindering my recovery,” Cosenzo said.

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She hopes the ministry will reconsider the suspension without having to go through an appeal process. The province has a licence appeal tribunal for drivers who want to challenge a medical-related suspension by the ministry.

It’s not as simple as MTO issuing Cosenzo a G-class licence rather than her F-class licence.

According to MTO spokesman Bob Nichols, the ministry will reconsider a decision on fitness to drive based on up-to-date medical information confirming national medical standards are met. The Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators maintains the standards on how to determine driver fitness.

When it comes to psychiatric disorders, the standards suggest the clinical judgment of the health care professional should inform the assessment.

Cosenzo has been driving for nearly 20 years and has a clean record. She said she has never received a traffic ticket.

Now, simple tasks such as picking up groceries for her family and going to medical appointments present a new challenge. She has lost the independence she enjoyed with a driver’s licence and will lean on her husband and adult daughter for help getting around the city.

Cosenzo likes walking her six-year-old son to school, but when the weather turns nasty they have taken pleasure in the comfort of her car. She has enjoyed meeting her best friend for dinner in Orléans — a halfway point for them — and now anticipates a long bus ride from her Barrhaven home.

Cosenzo said she’s trying to stay upbeat about it, describing how she’s embracing walking more and learning OC Transpo routes.

September 20, 2016<\/p>\n

 <\/p>\n

Ontario\u2019s Ministry of Transportation has suspended the driver\u2019s licence of an Ottawa woman who has\u00a0post-traumatic stress disorder, even though she says her mental health doesn\u2019t prevent her from safely operating a vehicle.<\/p>\n

\u201cIt\u2019s very strange\u00a0because I feel like a criminal, I really do,\u201d\u00a0Marie-Julie Cosenzo said.\u00a0\u201cI\u00a0have\u00a0done nothing wrong.\u201d<\/p>\n

Cosenzo, 36, has an F-class licence\u00a0because she\u2019s a paramedic. The licence allows her to drive an ambulance and a regular passenger vehicle. Her regular five-year review of her licence\u00a0arrived from the province last February.<\/p>\n

She said the province sent her a letter this month\u00a0to say her licence was\u00a0being suspended, based on the information in the review the MTO received about\u00a0her medical condition. The F-class licence renewal requires a checkup on her physical and psychiatric\u00a0health and compels her doctor to report\u00a0the information to the province.<\/p>\n

Under the licence suspension, she can\u2019t even drive her Pontiac Vibe legally. MTO has told her it will need her doctor to confirm three months of mental and emotional stability and confirm that any thoughts of self-harm have been treated or resolved.<\/p>\n

<\/div>\n

Cosenzo has been on medical leave from her paramedic job with the\u00a0Coop\u00e9rative des Param\u00e9dics de l\u2019Outaouais since last October, when she responded to a traumatic call for a teenager who died by suicide. She has PTSD but\u00a0feels her condition\u00a0has improved.<\/p>\n

Cosenzo said her medication doesn\u2019t affect her ability to drive and she doesn\u2019t have episodes\u00a0of road rage. She\u00a0is aware of her limitations\u00a0and has\u00a0never taken\u00a0powerful medication before driving.<\/p>\n

Her licence suspension was a surprise to her doctor, she said.<\/p>\n

\u201cMy psychologist was furious because it\u2019s hindering my recovery,\u201d\u00a0Cosenzo said.<\/p>\n

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