These pages are about driving laws in the UK. If you are looking for information about driving laws in another country, please contact your local epilepsy organisation.
Stopping driving if you have epilepsy or a history of epilepsy
Different types of seizures
The driving law currently applies to any type of epileptic seizure, such as absence, partial, myoclonic and tonic-clonic seizures.
Awake and asleep seizures
Some people have seizures when they are awake, some people have seizures when they are asleep and some people have both awake and asleep seizures. The driving laws for ‘awake seizures’ and ‘asleep seizures’ are different. If you have both awake and asleep seizures, the law for awake seizures applies.
If you have a suspected seizure at any time when you are awake, the law says you must stop driving and inform the driving agency.
If you have a suspected seizure when you are asleep, the law says you should stop driving and inform the driving agency. The exception to this is if you already hold a driving licence that has been issued on the full understanding that you have asleep seizures only.
If you hold a driving licence, and then have a break-through seizure, you should stop driving and inform the driving agency.
In exceptional circumstances, such as being given the wrong drugs, your doctor can seek advice from the Medical Adviser at the driving agency. Your doctor can then advise you what you need to do about your driving licence.
If the break-through seizure happens when you are asleep and your driving licence has been issued on the full understanding that you have asleep seizures only, you can carry on driving.
The law says that if you have a seizure you must stop driving and inform the driving agency.
Single seizure with no specific cause
If you hold a category A, B, B+E, F, G, H, L or P licence you will need to stop driving for a minimum of six months from the date of the seizure. If you are also qualified to drive vehicles in categories C, C1, D, or D1 you will need to stop driving for a minimum of five years from the date of the seizure.
Single seizure with a specific cause
Some seizures have a very specific cause that is unlikely to happen again. These seizures may be classed as ‘provoked’ by the driving agency. The following, however, are not classed as provoked by the driving agency:
- seizures associated with alcohol or illegal drug use
- seizures associated with lack of sleep
- seizures associated with a structural abnormality.
The following are not automatically considered as provoked by the driving agency:
- seizures reported as a side-effect of prescribed medication.
If you believe your seizure could be classed as provoked by the driving agency, you should first talk to your doctor. Your doctor can contact the Medical Adviser at the driving agency to find out more on your behalf. If the driving agency believes your seizure could be classed as provoked, they will look at your case individually. Based on a doctor’s advice, the driving agency will advise you when you can start driving again.
- If you don’t stop driving you may be breaking the law – and could face prosecution.
- Your current driving licence may not be valid.
- Your car insurance may not cover you.
- A seizure could affect your ability to drive safely.
This information has been produced under the terms of The Information Standard.
Updated May 2011To be reviewed May 2013