If you have not experienced any symptoms of epilepsy before and then you have a seizure of any kind you must stop driving and notify DVSA using this form if you drive a car or ride a motorbike, or this form if you drive a bus or heavy vehicle. This form is used for blackouts, convulsions, epilepsy, fits, petit mal, seizures and other related conditions.
If you don’t tell DVSA about a medical condition that affects your driving then you may be fined up to £1,000 and prosecuted if you are involved in an accident as a result of your condition. Your car insurance may not be valid if you continue driving.
The sooner you tell DVSA and surrender your licence, the quicker you may be reissued a licence. Doctors may break confidentiality to tell DVSA due to the risk to the public.
Car and motorbike licences
To be allowed to drive you must have a licence and meet all other health requirements for driving, and have been completely free of seizures for at least one year, either with or without taking anti-epileptic drugs.
Vocational licences (large goods vehicles, passenger carrying vehicles, horse boxes)
To be allowed to drive you must have a licence of the correct class, meet all other health requirements for driving and have been completely free of seizures for at least 10 years. DVSA may require proof to its satisfaction that you are not at risk of suffering another seizure.
Local councils determine the rules for taxi drivers.
Types of seizures
If you have a non-epileptic seizure and your doctor and DVSA are satisfied you are unlikely to have another seizure either because they are under control with medication or it was due to an external factor which is now no longer present (also see provoked seizures, below), you may be able to apply for a new car or motorbike licence.
If you have your first unprovoked seizure or an isolated procedure which doesn’t recur, and there are no clinical factors that would indicate you have a high likelihood of having another seizure, such as a scar on the brain or irregular EEG activity, you may be able to get a new car or motorbike licence within six months or a new lorry or passenger vehicle licence within five years. In the case of a vocational licence you must not have been prescribed anti-epileptic drugs during the five year before you reapply.
This does not apply to people who have been diagnosed with epilepsy, or people who had a second or subsequent seizure more than 24 hours after the first.
If you have had no history of epilepsy or seizures but you have a seizure caused by an event that is unlikely to happen again this may be classed as a provoked seizure. Examples would include a seizure as a result of an injury or stroke, and these are looked at by DVSA on an individual basis.
Seizures caused by sleep deprivation, alcohol and drug misuse or the side effects of medication are not usually considered provoked. If your first seizure was caused by alcohol misuse you will need to fill out form DR1 or DR1V, and if caused by drug misuse, form DL1 or DLM1.
A permitted seizure is a seizure where you retain the ability to drive, even during the seizure. These ‘awake’ seizures must not affect consciousness or the ability to control a vehicle. For some of these kinds of seizures you may be able to drive a car or motorbike after one year even if you are still having seizures, dependent on:
- Your ability to stay fully conscious during the seizures
- Whether you’ve had any other types of seizures than awake seizures
- Whether you can control a vehicle normally during your seizure and make reactions to other road users while driving.
Asleep seizures (or nocturnal seizures) are seizures when asleep or while falling asleep or waking up. You must notify DVSA and stop driving. If you only have these types of seizures and not awake seizures then you may be able to drive a car or motorbike after one year of only having sleep seizures.
If you have any other type of seizure then you will need to tell DVSA and stop driving.
Driving vehicles that require no licence
Certain types of vehicles that aren’t driven on the road do not require a licence, for example some farm machinery, forklift trucks, etc. If they are only driven on private land and not on public roads, then a person that has had a seizure is permitted to drive them. Care should be taken, though.
Darren has owned several companies in the automotive, advertising and education industries. He has run driving theory educational websites since 2010.