Driving with epilepsy

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Epilepsy is a neurological condition that affects around 600,000 people in the UK – or around one in every 100. The condition can strike anyone at any age and results in recurrent and sometimes unexpected seizures. Which means it can have serious implications for motorists. The medical standards around driving with epilepsy are very detailed and can be complicated, so the DVLA is working with the Epilepsy Society to raise awareness of the rules around driving with the condition to help maintain the safety of the UK’s roads. So if you or someone you know has the condition, here is a quick run-down what you need to know about driving with epilepsy…

Group 1 drivers (cars and motorcycles)

If you have epilepsy and drive a car or ride a motorcycle, you will usually be granted a three-year licence provided you’ve:
  • Not had an epileptic attack in the last 12 months, unless your seizures fall under one of the concessions listed on page 23 of the DVLA ‘At a Glance Guide’.
  • Complied with the advice of your doctor or consultant concerning treatment and check-ups.
Once you have been free of seizures for five years you will normally be issued a licence that’s valid until your 70th birthday. You must inform the DVLA of a first unprovoked epileptic seizure and will have to stop driving for six months from the date of the first seizure. If you’re considered to be at high risk of having a further seizure you’ll have to hang up the car keys for a year.

Group 2 drivers (lorries and buses)

You will only be granted a licence to drive a lorry or bus if you’ve remained free of seizures for 10 years without taking any anti-epilepsy medication. The duration of the licence will depend upon your medical details. Again, you must inform the DVLA of your first unprovoked epileptic seizure and then stop driving Group 2 vehicles for five years from the date of this seizure. In addition, you’ll have to be assessed by a neurologist, and the results must show no indication that that the risk of a further seizure is greater than 2% a year. You must also have taken no anti-epilepsy medication throughout the five-year period prior to the granting of the licence. If you are a taxi driver the regulations for Group 2 licences may apply to you, but you should contact your own local authority to find out its position on standards for driving.

Vehicles which need no licence (forklift trucks, farm vehicles and sit-on lawnmowers)

DVLA regulations only apply to vehicles that are driven on public highways and not private land, but if you or someone you employ drives any of these vehicles on private land as part of a job the Health and Safety Executive advises standards for driving are similar to car and  LGV (light goods vehicle) standards, depending upon size and weight. If these vehicles are driven on public highways you’ll need a driving licence and should get in touch with the Health and Safety Executive on 0845 345 0555.

Electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters

Electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters are not considered to be ‘vehicles’ so you don’t need a driving licence to use them on private land or public roads. However, if you drive a ‘class 3 invalid carriage’ that can be used on the road and has maximum off-road speed of 4mph and on-road speed of 8mph, you must register it with the DVLA. Don’t worry, though, you won’t be charged road tax for using it on the road. For more detailed information on driving with epilepsy, check out this leaflet or this flow chart from the Epilepsy Society, or contact the helpline on 01494 601 400. And if you’ve any other condition that may affect your driving, check out my article Are you fit to drive?

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