Do I Need a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist?

Good question. Are you a person with a disability who plans to drive your own wheelchair accessible vehicle? If so, you need to be certified by a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist (CDRS) in order to obtain a driver’s license. Before you can safely operate a modified vehicle, you must be fully trained on the adaptive devices installed in your vehicle, and those devices vary based on your physical needs and the vehicle itself. When you go to your local DMV to get your license, you’ll need to prove you’ve been trained on your adaptive devices by a CDRS.

A driving rehab specialist develops and implements driver rehabilitation programs for people with disabilities. Typically, these specialists have experience in a health-related field and/or advanced education in traffic safety. They’re licensed by the Department of Motor vehicles in their state.

What Will a CDRS Do For Me?

The process often begins with a comprehensive assessment of the individual’s driving capability, including visual, cognitive and physical abilities, typically administered by a licensed occupational therapist or kinesio-therapist with CDRS credentials as well.

A CDRS can help you identify the mobility devices and modifications best suited for your needs and your vehicle. If your goal is to buy a wheelchair accessible van, the CDRS can help make the decision easier by helping identify all your options and pointing you in the right direction for the type of wheelchair van conversion, ramp or lift, and hand controls ideal for your particular situation. A CDRS can do the same for you if you’re in the market for a wheelchair or power scooter.

Ultimately, the CDRS evaluates your “behind-the-wheel” performance, making sure you’re proficient in operating a vehicle and able to make safe, self-reliant driving choices.

What Else Should I Know About a CDRS?

It’s important for you to know that vehicle and health insurance companies do not acknowledge adaptive driving as part of their services, which is why many people with disabilities who want to modify their vehicles and work with a CDRS must pick up the tab themselves. Usually, health insurance doesn’t view driving rehabilitation as “medically necessary”. In fact, there’s no health billing code available for Driving Assessments or Training, though some Occupational Therapy codes might pay for specific areas of services received from a CDRS. Look into your state-funded agencies for possible financial assistance with adaptive driving devices and vehicle disbursements.