What the driving regulations mean for you
Please note: DVLA phone lines are currently busier than usual because of coronavirus (COVID-19). They are also taking longer than usual to respond to queries sent by post.
Follow our interactive guide to see at a glance what the driving regulations mean for you.
When can I drive again?
When you can drive depends on the type of seizures you have now, the type of seizures you have had previously, and what type of licence you have. You must also meet all normal driving requirements and these two conditions:
- You must follow your doctor's advice about your treatment and check ups.
- The driving agency must be satisfied that you are not likely to have any more seizures.
If someone with no history of seizures or previous brain disease has a seizure caused by something that is unlikely to happen again, this may be a ‘provoked seizure’. The driving agency must agree with your doctor that the seizure was provoked. The driving agencies will look at provoked seizures on an individual basis but usually you will have to stop driving for six months for a Group 1 licence and up to five years for Group 2. Seizures caused by sleep deprivation are not usually considered provoked.
First and single (isolated) seizure
This is a first and single seizure that is not provoked (see above) in a person who has not had any other unprovoked seizures during the past five years. It includes where someone has had more than one seizure if they all occurred within a 24 hour period.
Group 1 licence (cars, motorcycles and mopeds): You may be allowed to start driving again after six months if you have had no further seizures and there are no clinical factors (such as a scar on the brain) or results from tests (such as an EEG) which suggest an increased risk of you having another seizure.
Group 2 licence (buses, coaches and lorries): You may be allowed to start driving again after five years if you have seen a specialist and there are no clinical factors (such as a scar on the brain) or results from tests (such as an EEG) which suggest a high risk of you having another seizure. You must not have been prescribed anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) during the five years before applying for a new licence.
These are seizures that start when you are awake. These are the regulations if your seizures affect your consciousness or ability to act:
Group 1 licence. To drive, you must meet all normal driving requirements and must have been completely free of seizures for one year, with or without taking anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs). Different regulations may apply if your seizures do not affect your consciousness (see below).
Group 2 licence. You must meet all normal driving requirements and must have been seizure-free, without AEDs, for the last 10 years.
‘Asleep seizures’ (sometimes called ‘nocturnal seizures’) are seizures that happen as you are falling asleep, while you are asleep, or as you are waking up. The term ‘asleep seizures’ might also apply if you have a seizure in your sleep during the day, if sleeping during the day is part of your normal routine (for example, if you do shift work).
• If you have an asleep seizure you must stop driving and contact the driving agency. If you are then seizure-free for one year you can apply for a new Group 1 licence, as you can for ‘awake seizures’.
• If you continue to have only asleep seizures you may be eligible to apply for a new Group 1 licence depending on the pattern of your seizures (see 'permitted seizures' below).
Seizures where you may be able to drive (permitted)
The following are are types of seizure where you can drive, under a Group 1 licence The DVLA form (INS9) has more details about permitted seizures.
Awake seizures that do not affect consciousness, attention and the ability to act.
For some types of awake seizure, you may be able to drive under a Group 1 licence after one year even if you are still having seizures. This is only if all of the following apply to you:
• you stay fully conscious during your seizures;
• your seizures do not stop you doing anything; and
• you have only ever had this type of seizure and have never had a seizure that affects your consciousness, attention and ability to act.
If you have or have ever had a seizure which affects your consciousness or ability to act, such as where you are confused or unable to remember what happens, these standards will not apply to you.
Asleep seizures with no history of seizures when awake.
If you have only ever had asleep seizures (and have never had an awake seizure), once this pattern of only asleep seizures has been seen for one year, you can apply for a Group 1 licence even if you still have these seizures. If you then have an awake seizure, you will need to stop driving and tell the driving agency.
Asleep seizures with a history of awake seizures.
If you have had only asleep seizures over a period of three years since your last awake seizure, you can apply for a Group 1 licence, even if you still have asleep seizures.
It is important that this pattern of only asleep seizures is seen over at least three years, starting from the first asleep you have had since your last awake seizure.
If you are seizure-free and stop taking your anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs), there is a risk that your seizures will start again. If you, with your doctor, decide to stop taking (withdraw) your AEDs, your doctor is likely to advise you to stop driving while you are withdrawing, and for six months after you have stopped your AEDs. This advice will be based on the recommendation of the DVLA. If you drive against your doctor's advice, you will be driving illegally.
If you have a seizure after withdrawing your AEDs, you will need to stop driving and tell the driving agency. If you go back onto the same medication at the same dose as you were on before, and are seizure-free and on this medication for six months, you can apply for a new licence. This only applies if you withdraw your AEDs under medical supervision.
If you are changing from one medication to another, your doctor will advise you if you need to stop driving. However, if you have a seizure you will need to stop driving and tell the driving agency. If you go back onto the same medication at the same dose as you were on before, and are seizure-free on this medication for six months, you can apply for a new licence.
An exception to the above is if you have ‘permitted seizures’ (see above). You will still need to tell the driving agency about the seizure but you may be allowed to carry on driving, depending on the type of seizures you have had previously.
Local authorities set their own standards for taxi drivers, and some use the DVLA regulations for Group 2 licences for driving a taxi.
Contact your local council for details.
Vehicles which need no licence
Forklift trucks, farm vehicles and sit-on lawn mowers on private land
The DVLA medical standards cover vehicles that are driven on public highways, not vehicles that are used on private land. A driving licence is not needed for the following vehicles as long as they are only being driven on private land and not on public roads: forklift trucks, farm vehicles (such as tractors and quad bikes), and sit-on lawn mowers. Employers need to consider health and safety regulations if someone drives these vehicles on private land as part of their job. The Health and Safety Executive advises driving standards for these vehicles that are similar to Group 1 and 2 standards, depending on their size and weight. If these vehicles are driven on public highways a driving licence would be needed.
Electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters
There are two ‘classes’ of electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters (or ‘invalid carriages’). Class 2 can’t be used on the road, and ‘class 3’ can be used on the road. You don’t need to have a licence for either class, but you need to register and tax class 3 as it can be used on the road (although you won’t have to pay for this). Your doctor may be able to advise whether these wheelchairs or scooters are safe for you to use.
Information produced: December 2019
When you can drive depends on the type of seizures you have now, the type of seizures you have had previously, and what type of licence you have.
If you stop driving due to a seizure, you need to tell your insurance company as part of your insurance terms and conditions. If you don't tell them, this could invalidate your insurance and may affect your insurance in the future.
If you've had a seizure you must tell the driving agency - the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in Great Britain, or the Driver Vehicle Agency (DVA) in Northern Ireland. You will also have to tell your insurance company.