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Driving rules if you change or withdraw your epilepsy medicine

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.

These rules only apply to group 1 licences. You can’t hold a group 2 licence to drive a bus, coach or lorry if you’re taking epilepsy medicines.

I'm changing my epilepsy medicine. Do I need to stop driving?

Your doctor will advise you if you need to stop driving and for how long. You don’t need to tell the driving agency or return your licence, unless you have a seizure.

I'm withdrawing my epilepsy medicine. Do I need to stop driving?

The driving agencies recommend that for safety, you should stop driving during the period of medicine withdrawal, and for 6 months after withdrawal is complete. Your doctor will tell you if you can start driving again earlier than this. You don’t need to tell the driving agency or return your licence, unless you have a seizure.

What happens if I have a seizure while I am changing or withdrawing my epilepsy medicine?

If you have a seizure while changing or withdrawing your epilepsy medicine, in most cases you’ll need to stop driving and surrender you licence.

You’re likely to lose your licence for 12 months, but you may be able to get it back sooner than this if you go back to the medicine that previously controlled your seizures. This may apply if:

  • You’ve been back on that treatment for at least 6 months and
  • You’ve been seizure free since going back on that treatment

There are just 2 exceptions where you don’t need to stop driving and surrender your licence. These are:

  • You have a licence based on having sleep seizures, and the seizure you had was a sleep seizure or
  • You have a licence based on having seizures that don’t affect your consciousness, and the seizure you had was the same type

If you would like to see this information with references, visit the Advice and Information references section of our website. If you are unable to access the internet, please contact our Epilepsy Action freephone Helpline on 0808 800 5050.

Code: 
B005.06

Epilepsy Action would like to thank Ed Foxell at DVLA for his contribution to this information. 

Ed Foxhell has declared no conflict of interest.

This information has been produced under the terms of The Information Standard.

  • Updated April 2018
    To be reviewed April 2020

Comments: read the 4 comments or add yours

Comments

Ihave just been put on sodium valprate for mood stabilizer and pain I am taking 2 5p0 tabs per day what are or are there any rules for driving

Submitted by Norma Drabble on

Hi Norma

There are the rules for driving and epilepsy: I am not aware of any general problems with taking sodium valproate and driving, unless it makes you very sleepy.

To check about your situation you could contact an organisation such as Rethink. They should be able to help. Their phone number is 0121 522 7007.

Regards

Cherry  

Epilepsy Action Helpline Team

Submitted by rich on

Until recently, I'd been seizure free for a long period (6 years), on medication (Sodium Valproate). I'd been allowed to drive, but after such a long period, I must admit adhering to my medication routine had become something that 'faded into the background' somewhat, and a little over a week or so ago, I lapsed several doses over the course of a weekend. As a result, I had an episode of two seizures in 24-hours. Talk about breaking my streak!

I plan to surrendour my license, however since I (of course), have now re-committed myself to taking my medication without fail, I'm wondering what the rules might be for how long I could wait before applying for my license back?

My lapse in medication was of course /not/ under the supervision of a medical professional (i.e. - this wasn't a 'planned' withdrawl of medication - just my own stupid fault).

I'm yet to see a neurologist (GP wasn't much help, just submitted a request for me to see a specialist), but assuming they agree my lapse in medication was the cause of my 'relapse', would the DVLA treat this in the same way as a planned withdrawl?

Many thanks!

Submitted by Mark_P_Lomas on

Hi Mark 

I think it is highly unlikely your consultant would agree to see this as a planned withdrawal, as it wasn’t one.

So I’m afraid you’re going to have to stop driving for 12 months.

It may be small consolation, but important to remember you will be able to apply for a free bus pass.

Regards

Cherry  

Epilepsy Action Helpline Team

Submitted by rich on

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