If you have a driving licence or want to learn to drive, you must tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (the DVLA to you and me) if you have epilepsy, seizures, fits or blackouts of any kind. It’s vital that you follow the law, or you could have your licence revoked. Even worse, you can be fined up to £1,000 and prosecuted if you’re involved in an accident and didn’t tell the DVLA about your condition.
Living with epilepsy or blackouts can be difficult enough, so we’re here to break the rules down, help you avoid breaking them and point you in the right direction. Let’s learn exactly what you need to do, and how and when you need to do it.
This information is for car and motorcycle licences only. If you’re a bus, coach or lorry driver, please check the gov.uk website for guidance.
Yes, you’re legally required to stop driving and inform the DVLA if you have a seizure, blackout or fit of any kind.
There are a couple of situations where this doesn’t apply:
Important: If you have, or ever had, a seizure which affects your consciousness or ability to act (if the seizure causes confusion or forgetfulness, for example) the above will not apply to you.
This isn’t necessarily a simple matter of ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ . You must tell the DVLA if you have, or have had, any seizures and you must stop driving until they tell you it’s safe to continue. The DVLA will investigate your condition and advise whether you’re safe to drive with your condition.
Let’s find out more about what will happen from there and how long you’ll need to wait before driving again, if you’re told to stop driving.
Like many other medical conditions that can affect your driving, the actions the DVLA take depend on the severity of your condition, and the type of seizures you have.
If the only seizures you’ve had in the past 3 years have been in your sleep, you might be able to continue driving as normal. The DVLA will let you know if this is the case, but you MUST stop driving until they make their decision.
If it’s been over a year since your first seizure, you could still qualify for a licence. Again, the DVLA will let you know, but you MUST stop driving until they make their decision.
You may be able to continue to drive if your seizures have never caused you to lose consciousness or control of your movements. Your first seizure must have been at least a year ago.
The DVLA will let you know if you qualify for a licence, but until then you MUST stop driving.
You have 2 options here when reporting your medical condition. You can either voluntarily surrender your licence or report your condition and wait until the DVLA investigate your case. Either way, you must stop driving until further notice.
It’s better to surrender your licence up front, which can be done by completing a ‘Declaration of voluntary surrender for medical reasons’ form. You’ll need to include your licence when you send the form to the DVLA. If you don’t have a printer, you can request the form by calling the DVLA on 0300 790 6806.
The DVLA will investigate your case and let you know if you can continue driving. If you get the green light, they’ll send your licence back. No drama!
If you don’t want to voluntarily surrender your licence, you can report your condition instead. Remember, you must stop driving until the DVSA have looked into your case and approved you to drive.
The process of reporting your epilepsy or seizure is fairly quick and easy. You can use the gov.uk tool to report any medical condition, including epilepsy, blackouts, fits and seizures. Once you’ve done that, the DVLA will advise you of the next steps (usually filling in a form, depending on your condition).
If the DVLA decide you’re unsuitable to drive, they’ll revoke your licence which adds several weeks (and a lot more effort) onto the process of getting it back in the future. With this in mind, it’s best to voluntarily surrender the licence.
The DVLA will revoke your licence if they find out about your condition. Anybody could report you, including your doctor — they have a duty of confidentiality, but this can be broken if they think you’re putting yourself or others at risk of danger. It’s not worth the risk or paranoia.
If the DVLA revoke your licence, you aren’t allowed to drive again until they finish their investigations, approve your application and your new licence arrives in the post — which can take several weeks longer than if you voluntarily surrender it.
There’s a fairly hefty list of prescription drugs that the DVLA say could potentially prohibit you from driving, but what about if you change or stop taking your anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs)?
If your seizures have stopped and your doctor recommends you stop taking your AEDs, you will probably be told to stop driving while withdrawing from your medication, and for 6 months after you’ve stopped. If you drive against your doctor’s advice, you’ll be breaking the law.
If you have a seizure after withdrawing from your meds, you’ll need to stop driving and report the seizure to the DVLA. You can reapply for your licence if you go back to taking the same AEDs as before and are seizure-free for 6 months.
If you’re swapping AEDs, your doctor will tell you if you need to stop driving. If you don’t follow their advice, you’ll be driving illegally.
If you have a seizure after changing medication, you’ll need to stop driving and report your seizure to the DVLA. If you go back to the same AEDs that you were taking before the change, and remain seizure-free for 6 months, you’ll be able to apply for a new licence.
Are you a driver with epilepsy? Perhaps you’ve spotted something we’ve missed, or have a question we haven’t covered here? Let us know in the comments and we’ll get back to you ASAP.