Our Helpline & Information Officer, Stuart Macgee looks at epilepsy and driving and what legal requirements need to be met before being able to drive again.
Losing your driving licence after a seizure can be difficult to cope with and may have a big impact on your life.
Up to 70% of people with epilepsy can have their seizures completely controlled with the right medication.
You may only need to give up your ordinary driving licence for 12 months. However, stricter rules apply for HGV and PGV licences.
While you are without your licence, you are entitled to free bus travel throughout Scotland and concessionary fares on local train services.
Also, you can buy a Disabled Person’s Railcard. This gives you one-third off long distance rail fares throughout the UK.
What the law says
People with epilepsy can drive if the legal requirements described below are met. Your doctor will also have to agree you are safe to drive.
If you do not lose consciousness during seizures you may be able to get your licence back.
Ordinary driving licence
You may be given an ordinary driving licence if:
- you have not had a seizure (with or without taking medication) for at least one year before the licence is due to take effect; or
- you have established a pattern for one year or more of only having seizures when you are asleep, but you must never have had any kind of seizure while awake. If this pattern is broken by any kind of awake seizure, you must stop driving immediately and tell the DVLA. You do not need to tell the DVLA if your seizures still only happen when you are asleep; or
- you have previously had awake seizures, but for at least three years have only had seizures while asleep. This means, if you continue to have sleep seizures after this period of time, you may start driving again. However, as soon as you have any kind of seizure while awake, you must stop driving immediately and notify the DVLA; or
- you have seizures that do not affect your level of consciousness and these would not affect your ability to control a vehicle. You may get your licence back after one year, while continuing to have these seizures. However, you must never have had a different type of seizure. If you do have any other type of seizure, then you must stop driving immediately and tell the DVLA.
The licence you are given after 12 months will last between one and three years. It will then need to be renewed.
After holding a licence for five years, whether you take medication or not, you may be given a licence lasting until you are 70.
One-off (isolated) seizures
If you have had one single seizure, you may get your ordinary driving licence back after six months if the following applies to you:
- you have only ever had one seizure
- your EEG and brain scan were clear
- you do not need to take anti-epileptic drugs
- your neurologist thinks you will be safe to drive after six months.
Otherwise you can apply to get your licence back after one year if you have only had one seizure and have had no more during the 12 months period.
The driving rules may be slightly different when a seizure is provoked. A provoked seizure is caused by an unusual event which normally will not happen again.
In this situation, the DVLA may allow you to drive sooner than the 12 months if the cause of the seizure can be found and either removed or treated. For example, if you have a seizure seconds after a head injury.
Your doctor, epilepsy specialist nurse and the DVLA will tell you more.
For more information on epilepsy and driving, please check out our factsheet by clicking here.