One per cent of people in the UK live with epilepsy. A neurological condition which causes a sudden loss of consciousness or convulsions, it can be dangerous to live with, and has serious implications for any motorists who have it. The Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) understands the complexity in determining who’s safe to drive with the condition, and the rules can be quite tricky. Read on for a guide on what you need to know about driving with epilepsy.
Can I drive with epilepsy?
There's no simple yes or no answer. But having epilepsy doesn’t mean you’ll never be allowed to drive - a common misconception. If you've had any type of epileptic attack you must report it to the DVLA and stop driving while you wait to hear from them. Then if your licence is taken away, when you can reapply for it will depend on the circumstances of your attacks.
As with many other medical conditions, DVLA does review the rules from time to time so it's important to check the latest position on the official government website.
People with epilepsy can apply for a group 1 licence (car or motorbikes) provided:
- The only attacks you’ve had in the past 3 years have been while you were asleep.
- It’s been 12 months or more since your last attack in your sleep.
- You have attacks or seizures that don’t affect your consciousness, and your last one was 12 months ago.
- You comply with the advice of your doctor.
If you’ve been free of seizures for 5 years, you’ll probably be given a licence valid until your 70th birthday (correct as of November 2018).
Epilepsy and car insurance
Under the Equality Act 2010, it’s illegal for insurers to increase the cost of a policy if a disability or medical condition doesn’t directly affect the risk of a claim. You need to let your insurer know, and you might be asked to provide medical information or be questioned about your condition. You could also be asked for a copy of your driving licence or a letter from the DVLA confirming that you’ve been cleared to drive by them..
If you’ve been given a licence, insurance companies can’t refuse you insurance or increase your premium without giving you a clear explanation as to why. If you have any problems finding insurance, you can get in touch with the Financial Ombudsman.
Do I have to tell someone if I have epilepsy and want to drive?
Yes. If you held a driving licence before being diagnosed with epilepsy or you have epilepsy and want to learn to drive, you must let the DVLA know. If you don’t let them know about your epilepsy – or any other medical condition that affects your driving – you risk a fine of up to £1000.
How do I tell the DVLA about my epilepsy?
Anyone who currently holds a licence can report their condition online. If you prefer to fill out a form, you can download the appropriate one and send it on to the stated address.
Will I have my licence taken away, and can I reapply for it?
- When you have an epileptic attack or seizure which causes you to lose consciousness, your licence will be taken away from you.
- Depending on the circumstances of your attack, you can expect it'll take at least 12 months for you to be able to reapply for your licence. For up-to-date rules, check the official government site. If you believe you had a seizure because of a change in your medication you can reapply 6 months later, if you haven’t had another during that time.
I had to stop driving, should I keep my car insured?
If you're told to stop driving temporarily, but hope to start up again in the future and meet the DVLA's requirements, register your vehicle as off the road and take out specialist insurance for a laid up vehicle. If you do get your licence back, you'll be able to drive again right away.
Published: 15 April 2019
Author: Jim Hunt