If you have epilepsy, when you can drive a car or motorcycle depends on the type of seizures you have. As well as meeting the specific driving rules for your type of seizures, you must also meet the following conditions:
- As far as you are able, you follow your doctor’s advice about your treatment and check-ups for epilepsy and
- The driving agency is satisfied that as a driver you are not likely to be a source of danger to the public
Use our online tool to find out when you can drive, or choose from the following list to read the rule for your type of seizure.
- I only have seizures when I’m awake, and they affect my consciousness
- I only have seizures when I’m awake, and they don’t affect my consciousness
- I only have seizures when I’m asleep
- I have seizures when I’m awake and asleep
- I’ve had an isolated seizure
- I’ve had a provoked seizure
If you have seizures when you’re awake, and they affect your consciousness, you will need to be seizure free before you can drive. You are allowed to drive when you have been seizure free for at least 12 months. The 12 month seizure-free period applies from the date of your most recent seizure.
If you have seizures that don’t affect your consciousness, you might be able to drive even if you continue having seizures. The driving agency would need to be satisfied that:
- You remain fully alert and able to react during your seizures and
- Your seizures don’t affect your ability to control the vehicle and
- You have been having this type of seizure for at least 12 months and
- You have never had any other type of seizure. See box below
Seizures that don’t affect your consciousness are often called simple partial or focal seizures. But even if you have been diagnosed with this type of seizure it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to drive. The driving agency will need a detailed description of your seizures before they make a decision.
If you have ever had a seizure that has affected your consciousness you won’t meet this particular driving rule. You will need to be seizure free for 12 months before you can drive. This applies even if the seizure that affected your consciousness was a long time ago.
If your seizures always start when you’re asleep, you may still be able to drive even if you continue having them. They don’t need to be at night. A seizure that starts during a daytime nap also counts as a sleep seizure.
Before they allow you to drive, the driving agency would need to be satisfied that:
- You’ve never had an awake seizure (see box below) and
- You’ve been having sleep seizures for at least 12 months. The 12 months applies from the date of your first seizure
If you’ve ever had an awake seizure, even if it was a long time ago, this rule won’t apply to you. See I have seizures when I’m awake and when I’m asleep.
If you have awake and sleep seizures, you can drive when:
- You’ve been free of both awake and sleep seizures for at least 12 months
If you stop having awake seizures, but you still have sleep seizures, you can drive when:
- You’ve been having sleep seizures only for at least three years. The three years applies from the date of your first sleep seizure after your last awake seizure
If you’ve had a single seizure and not had any others before or since, the driving agency may class it as an isolated seizure. If so, you may be able to drive when:
- You’ve been seizure free for at least six months and
- Your consultant thinks it is unlikely you will have another seizure
If you’ve had a single seizure, but have been diagnosed with epilepsy it’s likely the driving agency will say you need to be seizure free for 12 months before you can drive. This is also likely to be the case if you’ve ever had any seizures in the past, even if it was a long time ago.
A provoked seizure is a seizure with a clear cause, which is unlikely to happen again. The circumstances in which the driving agency will say a seizure is provoked are very limited.
Here are some examples:
- A seizure at the time of a stroke or mini-stroke, or in the following 24 hours
- A seizure in the first week following a head injury
If you have had seizures in the past, it is very unlikely that the driving agency will decide your seizure was provoked.
A seizure caused by alcohol, drug misuse or lack of sleep would not be classed as provoked.
If you think you may have had a provoked seizure, you should first talk to your doctor. They can contact a medical adviser at the driving agency to find out more on your behalf. If the driving agency believes your seizure was provoked, they will look at your case individually. Based on a doctor’s advice, the driving agency will tell you when you can start driving again.
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.
Epilepsy Action would like to thank Ed Foxell at DVLA for his contribution to this information.
Ed Foxell has declared no conflict of interest.
This information has been produced under the terms of The Information Standard.
- Updated March 2017To be reviewed March 2018