Not everyone knows that you may have to inform the DVLA if you have a medical condition, and people who do know this may be only vaguely aware of it. The situation is in fact very complex, but should be easier to understand once you have read this guide.
Broadly speaking, medical conditions are divided into those you have to tell the DVLA about and those you don’t, though there are ifs and buts in each category. If you do have to, you could be fined up to £1000 if it is discovered that you didn’t, and you may be prosecuted for not doing so if you are involved in an accident as a result of your condition.
Notifying the DVLA involves filling out and sending in the appropriate form, which can be found on the www.gov.uk website. The site also gives information intended for medical professionals (but publicly available) which is used to determine whether or not you can keep your licence.
All the information which follows applies to holders of car or motorcycle licences. The requirements for people who hold bus, coach or lorry licences are stricter, and different forms have to be filled in.
You do not need to notify the DVLA of the following conditions as long as they do not lead to anything else:
Balloon angioplasty in leg
Blood clot in lung
Carotid artery stenosis
Ischaemic heart disease
Left bundle branch block
Peripheral arterial disease
Transient global amnesia
Several heart conditions, including angina, chronic aortic dissection, coronary artery disease (or bypass), heart valve disease (or replacement) and recovery from a heart attack, do not require notification, but you are advised to stop driving – usually for at least a month – and not start again without clearance from your doctor.
If you have vision in only one eye, that’s fine, as long as the required standards of vision are met by that eye. If not, the DVLA has to be informed, as it also must if you have branch retinal vein occlusion, cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration or retinopathy in both eyes.
The following conditions require DVLA notification in all circumstances:
ALS (motor neuron disease)
Angiomas or cavernovas
Ataxia (including Friedrich’s ataxia)
Bipolar disorder (manic depression)
Blood clot in brain
Brachial plexus injury
Brain abcess or cyst
Burr hole surgery
Congenital heart disease
Defibrillator (atrial or ventricular)
Diplopia (double vision)
Drug misuse (illegal or prescription)
Fits, seizures or convulsions
Guillain Barré syndrome
Hypoxic brain damage
Lewy body dementia
Motor neuron disease (ALS)
Reduced visual acuity
Spinal condition or injury
Traumatic brain injury
Visual field defects
VP shunt treatment
In the case of epilepsy, you must stop driving immediately and your licence may be taken away. When you can re-apply for it determines on depends on the recovery process and whether you suffer any more attacks, which will not be apparent at the time of the first one.
There is another category of conditions which should be notified to the DVLA only if your doctor says they affect, or are likely to affect, your driving:
Autistic spectrum disorders
Obsessive compulsive disorder
Obstructive sleep apnoea
Post traumatic stress disorder
Severe memory problems
Then there are conditions requiring notification only in certain circumstances:
Aortic aneurysm (if the aneurysm is over 6cm in diameter after treatment)
Arthritis (if you need special controls to drive your car)
Blood pressure (if treatment causes side effects which could affect your driving)
Broken limb (if you will be unable to drive for more than three months)
Déjà vu (if related to seizures or epilepsy)
Diabetes (if treated with insulin)
Intracerebral haemorrhage (if you are still having problems after nine months)
Stroke (if you are still having problems after one month)
Surgery (if you are unable to drive three months after the operation)
Vertigo or dizziness (if sudden, disabling or recurrent)
Inevitably, the situation is more complex with some conditions than with others. For example, you do not have to notify the DVLA that you have cancer unless you develop problems with your brain or nervous system, you are restricted to certain types of vehicle, your car has been adapted, your medication causes side effects which may affect your driving or your doctor says you might not be fit to drive.
There is no need to tell the DVLA if you have had a transient ischaemic attack as long as you have recovered from it within a month without brain surgery. More than one TIA, or a longer recovery period, or concern expressed by a medical carer about your ability to drive all require notification.
Heart failure does not automatically require you to contact the DVLA, but it does if it leads to symptoms which affect your driving or distract you from it, or which occur when you are at rest and not taking part in any activity, driving or otherwise. You must not drive while the DVLA investigates any of these, and even if you don’t need to report the heart failure you should not drive for at least a month, and then only when your doctor says it is safe to do so.
More complete information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/health-conditions-and-driving.