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Medical conditions and driving

If you don't declare medical conditions that affect your driving to the DVLA, you could end up with a fine. You might invalidate your car insurance too. Here we look at which medical conditions you need to declare and how you do it.

Person conducting eye test

What medical conditions does the DVLA need to be notified of?

Conditions you must notify the DVLA of (known as notifiable conditions) are: diabetes, sleep apnoea, fainting spells, heart conditions, epilepsy, stroke and glaucoma.

If you've any condition that may affect your ability to drive safely, you should notify the DVLA. If you don’t, you could be fined up to £1,000.

You may also be prosecuted if you’re involved in an accident as a result, and you could invalidate your car insurance.

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Medical conditions and your car insurance

If you make a claim on your car insurance after being in an accident, and it turns out you have an undisclosed medical condition that could impact on your ability to drive, it could potentially invalidate your claim.

This means it’s vital to tell your car insurer about any medical conditions when you take out your car insurance. You may need to pay more as a result but you will at least have the peace of mind that your cover won’t be invalidated.

 

The DVLA and medical conditions

Some of the more common conditions that people frequently ask about with regards to driving include:

Let’s take a look at each in turn.

 

Epilepsy and driving

Due to the nature of the condition, epilepsy has the ability to affect driving safety quite significantly.

If you've had an epileptic seizure and you've lost consciousness, the DVLA will take your licence away.

You can reapply to get it back after six months, provided you've not had any seizures for that time.

The type of seizure is also important, for example if you only get them at night.

Medical advisors will act on the information you and your doctors send them about your epilepsy. For more information visit GOV.UK.

 

Driving after a stroke 

When it comes to strokes and driving, you only need to notify  the DVLA if you’re still having problems one month later.

If you’re not sure whether you’re fit to drive, then you can ask your doctor whether you need to notify DVLA. Visit GOV.UK for more info.

 

Diabetes and driving

Whether you need to notify the DVLA about your diabetes largely depends on what type of medication you’re on.

If your condition is treated by tablets or non-insulin injections, check with your doctor to find out whether you need to notify the DVLA.

If your diabetes is treated with insulin for more than three months, then you must notify the DVLA.

For more information, including how to report diabetes, you should visit the GOV.UK's diabetes and driving page.

 

Mental health conditions

Mental health problems are common throughout the general population. Many of those who have a mental health condition see no ill effects on their ability to drive.

It’s estimated that one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year, according to mental health charity Mind.

When it comes to notifying the DVLA, mental health issues are usually judged on periods of stability and the driver’s particular condition.

For example, if you have anxiety or depression you only need to tell the DVLA if they affect your ability to drive safely.

You should ask your doctor if you’re not sure if your anxiety or depression will affect your driving.

There are other mental health conditions where you need to notify the DVLA. These include bipolar disorder, psychosis and schizophrenia.

 

Driving eyesight rules

There’s a minimum standard of vision that every driver must meet.

You must be able to read a car number plate from 20 metres, a test that should be familiar from your driving test.
 
For the purposes of driving this can be completed with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary.

And you must wear glasses or contact lenses every time you drive if you need them to meet the required standard of vision for driving.

 

Can I drive with one eye?

You can still drive if you only have vision in one eye, as long as you can meet the required standard of vision for driving in that eye.

You should ask your doctor or an eye specialist if you’re not sure.

 

Driving on medication

Some medicines do affect your ability to drive safely. If you are prescribed any of the following it’s vital to discuss driving with your doctor first:

  • Amphetamines such as dexamphetamine and selegiline 
  • Clonazepam

  • Diazepam

  • Flunitrazepam

  • Lorazepam

  • Methadone

  • Morphine or opiate based drugs ( such as codeine, tramadol or fentanyl)

  • Oxazepam

  • Temazepam

You may still be able to drive while taking these drugs, however you need to take advice from the doctor prescribing them.

 

Driving after surgery 

If you have had a general anaesthetic you’ll not be able to drive for at least 48 hours.

Beyond that you must follow the advice of your doctor. They’ll want to know, for example, you’re comfortable in the driving position and fully able to perform an emergency stop.

It’s always a good idea to inform your insurance company or check your policy wording - some policies might require you to stop driving for a specific number of weeks.

Should your recovery take longer than three months you will need to notify the DVLA.

 

Driving with cancer

Cancer shouldn’t necessarily stop you driving. You only need to notify the DVLA if:
  • Your doctor tells you to
  • There are problems with your brain or nervous system
  • You are restricted to certain vehicles that have been adapted for you
  • Your medication gives you side-effects which impair your ability to drive

 

Driving with a heart condition

Whether or not you can drive with heart problems depends on the nature and severity of your condition.

It’s important to discuss driving with your specialist and follow their advice. The vehicle you need to drive is a consideration too - rules might be tighter if you drive for a living.

It’s also important to stop driving immediately if you suffer from dizziness, blackouts or fainting and seek medical advice.

If you cannot drive for three months or more you will need to surrender your licence and apply for it again once you’re fit to drive.

 

Driving with physical disabilities

Technological advancements are making it easier for people with physical disabilities to drive.

However it’s still important that you notify the DVLA when you first apply for a licence or if you develop a notifiable condition or disability down the line.

The DVLA will then assess whether you are fit to drive.

If you have a physical disability you could be eligible for a blue badge. To find out more, read our guide on blue badge schemes.

 

Driving with a hearing condition

If you are driving a car or motorcycle you do not need to notify the DVLA that you’re deaf. However you will need to notify the DVLA if you have a bus, coach or lorry licence.

 

How to notify DVLA of a medical condition

If you want to report a condition to the DVLA, you can do it online or by post. The online process has a comprehensive list of conditions.

 

What happens once I’ve notified the DVLA of a medical condition?

Once you’ve notified your condition to the DVLA, what happens next depends on the condition.

Generally, the DVLA will state what restrictions, if any, it will impose on your licence.

For example, it could impose a one, two or three-year restriction.

This relates to how often you’ll have to get re-examined for the condition to see if you're fit to drive.

 

Other health conditions and driving

This guide has only covered some of the medical conditions that can affect your ability to drive safety.

For a full list, check out the government guide on health conditions and driving.

And if you’re not sure whether a condition will affect your driving then you should always seek professional medical advice.