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Thread: Hand Controls Certificate

  1. #1

    Hand Controls Certificate

    I'm C5/6 incomplete, 42yrs post injury. When I was first injured I went through driver training with hand controls but by the time I got out of the hospital and got a car I was able to drive using my feet (one for brake, one for gas). But my legs are getting weaker and I was thinking of having a hand control brake installed. But when I went to my mobility guy he said a couple of years ago California passed a new law that would require me to get certified before he could install the hand brake. The nearest place that does the training is 1.5hrs away and quoted me a price of $375 evaluation fee, $175 per hour lesson and it usually takes around 12 lessons. So basically $2,500. OUCH!!!!!

    I been doing some internet searching but can't find any information on the actual law. The last thread on this forum was 2013. Has anyone been dealing with this situation recently? I'm thinking of going to Nevada to have the control installed or find a used set and have me and my son install them. I would rather have a professional do it.

  2. #2
    Senior Member pfcs49's Avatar
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    An "only brake" lineage is quite simple to engineer and execute.
    You could hack it using a used hand control set OR just make your own.
    69yo male T12 complete since 1995
    NW NJ

  3. #3
    I made the voluntary transition in 2012, also in CA. I don't remember the cost but I did it in an afternoon including driving in my vehicle with the instructor. It certainly was not 2500.00 or 12 lessons. I have a certificate, and last year had to renew my license in person. I have never had a Doctors requirement of HC but would not attempt driving without them. I chose to come clean, and DMV looked at the certificate had me do a driving test, then forgot to put the requirement on my license.
    Where in CA are you located?

  4. #4
    This kind of stuff is why we need advocacy. It's ludicrous that you have to go through any special "certfication" to be allowed to modify your own vehicle. If someone wants you to pass a driving test that's fine, everybody has to pass one of those. If they want you to pay someone thousands of dollars for someone to "certify" you they should go fuck themselves.

    Even in California you can build your own car from scratch and you don't have to go through the above process:
    " When an official brake and light station that inspects specific vehicles such as motorcycles and large commercial vehicles is not located within a reasonable distance, DMV will accept a Statement of Facts (REG 256) from a repair shop attesting that the brakes and lights are in proper working order. Brake and light certificates are not required for off-highway vehicles or trailers weighing less than 3,000 pounds gross vehicle weight."
    https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/vr/spcnsreg

    The above has nothing to do with hand controlled cars, it's for people who straight up built their car in their garage (or built a highly modified "kit car"). I'm just pointing out the absurd disparities between making a modification to suit a disability (apparently quite stringent and expensive and time consuming) and someone who's just building stuff for the hell of it (easy breezy apparently, just get a mechanic to fill out a form and mail it in if you live too far away from an inspection station).

    In the southeast, when I got crippled I just bought a pair of collapsible, portable hand controls and screwed them onto the pedals and started driving. No one has even made me take another driving test since I passed my first one at age 16, eight years before my injury, and even more years since it.

    So apparently if you want to skirt this law instead of modifying the brake lever you should completely rebuild the car into some mad max rig like this

    and build it so that the brakes can only be controlled by your hands (or via a digital button or by blinking your left eye three times or however you want to build it) and then you won't have to be "certified" for your brakes beyond getting a mechanic buddy to sign a piece of paper saying that they work. Literally all the paperwork says is that a repair shop has to attest that the brakes and lights work. Nothing about how they work or how well they work or can they slow the car down from 60 to zero in less than eight miles. The "statement of facts" form literally just has a blank space for them to write in and the entirety of the instructions say that they should certify whether or not the brakes work.

    This pisses me off so much. Somebody who has some time on their hands should sue the state for discrimination to fix this. Who would have thunk liberal California would have such aggressively discriminatory laws in place seemingly intended only to penalize the disabled?



  5. #5
    I am C6/7 complete and don't drive. And, I have another perspective. My niece and her husband were sitting in their living room with their then, three year old son. A quad in his van with hand controls, somehow lost it and crashed through their living room window and almost took out the entire family, not to mention the substantial property damage that occurred. Turned out that he had no training with using these hand controls, but somehow became licensed to drive his van. Given this experience, I don't have a lot of empathy for those of you who don't want to take the time, effort or monetary responsibility to get training and certification necessary to become competent in the use of these assistive devices. Safety always first for you and anyone that you might injure.

    Driving is not a right, it is a privilege, and if you aren't competent or can't prove competency you don't deserve the privilege.

    That said, you should not be able to buy auto insurance if you can't prove competency according to state motor vehicle codes and if that means taking driving lessons...so be it. Certification is a little price to pay for your safety and the safety of others on the road or in their homes.
    Last edited by gjnl; 04-11-2019 at 11:23 PM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member djrolling's Avatar
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    I use hand controls and was never trained and did not have a restriction on my lic for hand controls till about 20 years or so post injury. I am a para and will conceed that the higher the injury the more likely you might need some training but I do not think it should be a blanket thing there needs to be some common sense in this area. It seems like so many things are turned into a money making scheme and it puts yet another burden on the disabled community. If I can demonstrate the ability to use hand controls then I should not have to take a class and pay extra money for nothing. Some how when I got my lic renewed I guess people did not know or were being lazy because the last time the person at the office asked how I drove and I said hand controls and she asked how long I had been using them and I told her and she was floored that I had been able to renew my lic without taking a road test and demonstrating that I could use them properly. I did for her and that was that I now have a restriction on my lic for hand controls.

  7. #7
    Senior Member pfcs49's Avatar
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    In the 23 years since my injury, I only paid once for hand controls-my first set.
    NJ requires you to pass a driving test at a specific NJ inspection facility. Kessler wanted me to take lessons but they were many and far in the future.
    I "learned" the hand controls driving to the facility and passed my test.
    Since then I have installed used controls in subsequent vehicles until 13 years ago when I fabricated my own with electronic throttle.
    19 years ago I fabricated controls for a 5spd manual GTI racer. I wish I had photos of them, but I was having too much fun using!
    69yo male T12 complete since 1995
    NW NJ

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Stsmark View Post
    I made the voluntary transition in 2012, also in CA. I don't remember the cost but I did it in an afternoon including driving in my vehicle with the instructor. It certainly was not 2500.00 or 12 lessons. I have a certificate, and last year had to renew my license in person. I have never had a Doctors requirement of HC but would not attempt driving without them. I chose to come clean, and DMV looked at the certificate had me do a driving test, then forgot to put the requirement on my license.
    Where in CA are you located?
    Modesto, Ca. Sonoma is not to far away. Who did you get your certificate from? Thanks for the reply.


    Has anyone ever been able to find/read this law. I'd like to see the actual wording.
    Last edited by wes4dbt; 04-12-2019 at 02:18 PM.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by wes4dbt View Post
    Modesto, Ca. Sonoma is not to far away. Who did you get your certificate from? Thanks for the reply.


    Has anyone ever been able to find/read this law. I'd like to see the actual wording.
    Perhaps start here? And here? And here?

    The second stating:

    "In order to be issued a driver's license, you must show the licensing authority you not only know the rules of the road, but that you can safely drive a car without any hindrances or obstructions. This means special steering wheel hand controls, including throttle, braking, signaling and steering, must be installed. In some states, a second set of controls should be included in the passenger seat." (emphasis mine)

    My take is that you (anyone) can be subjected to a "reexamination" at the behest of the DMV. You would then have to demonstrate competence driving the vehicle with the modified controls. Also, that you are REQUIRED to disclose any disabilities at the time you file (renew?) for a license.

    [Unrelated, though of potential interest: https://www.potterhandy.com/hand-controls-for-test-drives]

  10. #10
    Before I was injured my right foot was in a cast making me unable to drive. After seeing the movie Avatar I wondered what Jake Sully would do for a car in a strange city. I called Enterprose and asked if I could rent a car with hand controls. Their response was "When do you want it". So they picked me up and took me to the car - explained how it worked. I drove very slowly around the lot for about 6 times and then home on back streets. A couple of weeks later I drove across the state. Moral - hand controls are not hard to learn IF you already know how to drive.
    I did one certification drive before taking the drivers test.
    I do think that just showing up like every teenager and passing the test should and probably is the only real certification requirement

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