Certain medical conditions can impact your ability to drive and risk the safety of you, your passengers and others on the road. This article explains what those conditions are and who you need to tell.
If you have had a change in your medical status through an accident or diagnosis, it is important to make sure that both the DVLA and your insurance provider have been notified before you continue to drive.
Not declaring an illness could result in your insurance policy being invalid should you try to claim. If you have not confirmed with the DVLA that you are still considered fit to drive following a change in health conditions, you could have your licence revoked or face a fine of up to £1,000.
Are there driving restrictions for people with medical conditions?
Sometimes. After informing the DVLA of changes to your medical condition, your licence type may change depending on fitness to drive criteria. In some cases, a medically restricted driving licence will be issued. These can last for one, two or three years and are then renewed subject to a medical review. It is not always the case, but this can sometimes result in higher insurance premiums.
Which medical conditions should I declare?
You should disclose any new or developing medical conditions that could impact your ability to maintain full control and focus while driving. Disclosing is important for preventing your licence and insurance from being invalid due to incorrect information, but it does not necessarily mean that you will be prevented from driving.
For example, if poor eyesight is the issue, the requirement could be as simple as the driver wearing glasses when in control of a vehicle. In other cases, such as conditions affecting limbs, your car may require modifications before it is considered safe to be on the road again.
If your condition means you are unable to drive for three months or more, you may be asked to surrender your licence until you have passed a medical to demonstrate you are in a suitable condition to resume driving.
Examples of common conditions that should be disclosed include:
Eyesight deteriorates as you get older, which means it is important to have your eyesight tested regularly. If you experience severe changes, including double vision or light sensitivity, consult your doctor and discuss the implications for driving.
If you suffer from severe or regular sleep apnea, you should disclose it immediately. Mild sleep apnea or fainting spells without excessive sleepiness may not need to be disclosed, but this should be confirmed with your doctor. If you are in any doubt then declare your condition.
Epileptic seizures can be difficult to anticipate and having one behind the wheel could cause a serious accident. If you suffer from epilepsy, you must declare it and will likely be assessed regularly by the DVLA to confirm you’re still safe to drive.
Strokes often result in a short-term restriction from driving. As you recover you should not drive for one month and then only begin again once your doctor has conducted a health check.
Conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s get worse over time. If you have one of these conditions you will likely be assessed annually to ensure you are still able to drive safely.
Physical disabilities can be wide-reaching and vary greatly from person to person. If you require modifications such as steering aids or hand controls, you will need to declare these to your insurance company.
If you had a hip or knee replacement you should follow the procedures for limb disability. The DVLA should be notified if you have had a significant operation which could prevent you from driving three months later, such as a caesarean section. You can notify the DVLA by completing the relevant forms, which can be found, along with a full list of medical conditions, on the DVLA website. If in doubt, it is best to disclose any changes or new conditions.
A notable exception is for hearing-related conditions – there is currently no restriction for hearing impaired drivers. Controllable diabetes is also unlikely to affect your car insurance unless you require insulin. In this case, the driver would be issued a restricted licence.
Who do I have to disclose my medical condition to?
Changes to your medical condition must be disclosed to both the DVLA and your insurance company. A valid licence is required to take out an insurance policy and so failure to disclose a change in condition could result in your insurance claim being invalidated if you were to be involved in an accident. Failure to report a change in your condition to the DVLA could result in a fine of up to £1,000 or having your licence suspended or even revoked.
How do I notify the DVLA?
You can contact the DVLA and check if a health condition affects your driving on the following page: https://www.gov.uk/health-conditions-and-driving
Are there any conditions which will prevent me from driving?
Decisions on allowing people to drive with medical conditions are made on a case-by-case basis by the DVLA. This could mean having a medical assessment with a doctor to determine if it is safe for you to return to the road. The decision should take around six weeks and you are allowed to continue driving in the interim.
Depending on the results of your assessments, the DVLA may require you to surrender your licence if you are going to be unable to drive for a sustained period (over three months). At this point another assessment would determine whether your licence is returned, revoked or limited. This process can be appealed.
Will my insurance premium increase?
Under the Equalities Act 2010, insurers cannot refuse coverage, raise premiums or increase an excess based on a driver’s medical condition if it was declared when the DVLA issued your licence. The only exception is if there is evidence of an increased risk e.g. as the condition changes over time.
Insurers are allowed to request evidence and information regarding your medical condition and are allowed to increase premiums if they believe that the chances of your causing an accident have increased. However, they must inform you of their reasons.
Driving an adapted vehicle could result in increased insurance premiums due to the potential for additional repair costs. If you require insurance for adapted vehicles speak to a disabled driver insurance specialist, to get a policy that is right for your needs.