Savvy Britain

Driving with a Medical Condition

Full UK Guide

UK Driving with a Medical ConditionOver the past decade or so, advanced driving courses have become increasingly popular throughout the United Kingdom.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve just passed your test or have been driving for years, all of us could easily see some form of benefit from an advanced course.

If you have a health issue, then driving with a medical condition isn’t always the end of your driving life.

In the United Kingdom you’re eligible to hold a full driving license until you’re 70, unless you lose it through a driving condition or your general health affects your ability to drive a car.

If you do have a driving medical condition then it’s your duty to inform the DVLA as soon as possible. It’s not just for your own safety; it’s also for other road users too. Equally, if you fail to notify the DVLA you may have to pay a hefty fine!

As well as the DVLA, you will also need to tell your Car Insurance Company about your new condition. This may result in your premium being affected, however this is obviously based on an individual case-by-case basis.

Let’s look at the different types of driving medical conditions:

Sight – It goes without saying, your sight is obviously incredibly important for driving. With or without glasses, you need to be able to read a number plate from 20.5 metres without any difficulty. You also need your Visual Acuity to be 0.5 or more on the Snellen Scale. If you’re currently driving now and you feel that your sight has deteriorated, or you have developed an eye condition such as cataracts, blindness or the loss of sight in one eye, you must tell the DVLA immediately. Equally you also need to visit the optician for a full eye examination. Driving with one eye isn’t impossibility and can be acceptable, however the driver must meet all of the required standards in the one remaining eye.

Hearing Loss – Generally there’s no ‘official’ laws when it comes to hearing for regular drivers, commercial drivers with hearing loss of 40 decibels or more, must have regular hearing tests. If you have a hearing aid or suffer from a hearing condition, then you should consider taking lessons with a specialist driving instructor. They are trained to teach drivers to ‘scan the road’ and make them more aware of their surroundings.

Physical Disabilities – The world of driving has really opened up to many disabled people, which is obviously a great thing. There’s no better feeling than for people to have independent back into their lives. Most modern cars can be adapted to suit a wide range of disabilities. This can include spinal conditions, cerebral palsy, arthritis, amputation and so on. As you would expect, every case is different and they are independently accessed by a Doctor. Please Click Here to read more information about Insurance for Disabled Drivers.

Surgery – If you’ve just had surgery then the DVLA will only need to be informed about your condition if it prevents you from driving for over three months. Usually if this is the case, your doctor or medical professional will recommend when you should commence driving again.

Medication – Millions of people across the world take some form of medication, whether that’s ‘over the counter’ or prescribed by a Doctor. It’s important that you’re aware of the facts surrounding medication. Generally if any form of medication affects your ‘alertness’ or ‘judgment’ then a UK Driving License is not valid. If you’ve been prescribed medication that can affect your driving, then your Doctor or Health professional will recommend how long you should wait before driving again. Driving while under the influence is a serious offence (even if your not using illegal drugs). You may incur fines and even have a total driving ban administrated by the courts.

Epilespy – Generally speaking, people with Epilespy are judged on an individual basis. The current UK laws can vary when it comes to driving. They generally surround the issue of whether the person suffers from awake seizures or sleep seizures. Typically if a person suffers from sleep seizures they can be issued a driving license for up to three years. However if a person suffers from awake seizures then they must tell the DVLA immediately. Once diagnosed by a Doctor and begins to receive treatment, the DVLA may issue a driving license. However this does vary massively and there isn’t a ‘general rule’. In most cases, a person needs to be at least free of seizures for around six months, before they can be considered for a license. However, as stated this can and will vary and it could be much longer.

Strokes – Similar to Epilespy, the DVLA has not definitive rules regarding strokes, they’re judged on a case by case basis. The only general rule that applies to all stroke victims is the fact they are not allowed to drive for a least one month after a stroke or transient ischaemic attack. Usually it’s a patient’s doctor who will recommend whether they’re capable of driving or not.

Diabetes – The DVLA has set rules when it comes to Diabetes. Firstly all drivers must tell the DVLA if they develop diabetes as soon as possible. Generally if Diabetes is treated with insulin, the driver will only be allowed a driving license for a set period. This is typically either one year, two years or three years. If diabetes is managed with tablets or non-insulin based medicine, the DVLA doesn’t require notification, unless a hypoglycaemia episode hasn’t occurred within the last 12 months. If a person has gestational diabetes that is treated with temporary insulin, then the DVLA only need to know if this course of treatment continues for over three months.

Cancer – Typically the vast majority of primary cancers don’t affect someone’s driving ability. However, it’s important you’re aware that ‘secondary effects’ of cancers may have some consequence. For example, this can be a lack of vision / focus, seizures or even weakness. Generally, a Doctor will advise on individual circumstances on whether a person is fit enough to drive, and they will also advice on whether the DVLA will need to be notified.

Heart Conditions – Usually a health professional such as a Doctor will recommend whether a person with a Heart Condition can drive or not. It’s not uncommon for people, who have had heart failure or heart value disease to continue driving. Each case is judged on an individual basis.

Neurological Conditions – A neurological condition such as a traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s, motor neurone disease or multiple sclerosis is typically accessed on an individual basis.

Please RememberThere’s no one rule, which fits all circumstances. Typically, a doctor will advise if a patient is well enough to drive, if this is the case, then the DVLA may issue a one to three year license. This will obviously depend on a Doctor’s recommendation. However, it’s important to note that the DVLA can revoke a license at any time. Usually the patient has to be ‘incident free’ for at least six months, to be even considered for a license.
Original Publication: 8 June 2017
Last Updated: 3 July 2017

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