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Adam Jolley

Medical conditions and driving

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What medical conditions does the DVLA need to be made aware of, and how do you go about notifying it? We explain all in our guide.

Doctor with clipboard

If you have any condition that may affect your ability to drive safely then 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.

What’s more, if you have to make a claim on your car insurance after being in an accident, and it turns out you have an undisclosed medical condition, this can potentially invalidate your claim.

The DVLA and medical conditions

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

  • epilepsy

  • strokes

  • diabetes

  • mental health conditions

  • visual impairments

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 any epileptic attacks, seizures, fits or blackouts then the DVLA advises you stop driving straight away.

Your licence may be taken away. However, this doesn’t mean that you’ll never be able to drive again, as you may be able to reapply in the future.

When exactly depends on a number of factors, such as when you last had an attack, and whether you’ve suffered from sleep seizures or awake seizures.

For more information see the government guide on epilepsy and driving.

Driving after a stroke 

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

If you’re not sure whether you’re fit to drive, then you can ask your doctor.

Diabetes and driving

Whether you need to tell 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, the advice is that you check with your doctor to find out whether your treatment means you need to tell the DVLA.

If your diabetes is treated with insulin, then you must inform the DVLA.

For more information, including how to report diabetes, you should visit the government’s diabetes and driving page.

Mental health conditions

Mental health problems are common throughout the general population and, of course, many of those who suffer see no ill effects on their ability to drive whatsoever.

In fact, 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, those with anxiety or depression need only tell the DVLA if either of these affects their ability to drive safely.

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

There are other mental-health related disorders where you need to tell the DVLA. These include bipolar disorder, psychosis and schizophrenia.

Driving eyesight rules

Eye exam Snellen chart

When it comes to eyesight and driving, there’s a minimum standard of vision that every driver must meet.

For example, you must be able to read a car number plate from 20 metres, a test that will be familiar with those who can remember their driving exam.

And you must have a visual acuity, or sharpness, of at least decimal 0.5 (6/12) on the Snellen scale – the chart in your opticians with the different-sized letters on. 

For the purposes of driving these requirements can be completed with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary.

And indeed 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.

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

How to report a medical condition to the DVLA

If you wish to report a condition to the DVLA, you can do it online or by post.

Which method depends on what condition you have, as the DVLA specifies that you can only let them know of some via post.

What happens once I’ve reported a medical condition to the DVLA?

Once you’ve reported a notifiable medical 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 determine if a restriction still applies and for how long.

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, your first port of call should be 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 guidance.

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