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Announcement on UK driving regulation changes

The Driving Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has published its response to proposals that will change the laws for people driving with epilepsy.

These proposals follow a public consultation in April 2011on the rules, after the introduction of the new European Directive on Driving Standards. Read what Epilepsy Action said about these proposals.

Based on figures from the Department of Transport, Epilepsy Action estimates that around 275-550 people with epilepsy could benefit from these changes. Although these regulations do not apply at the moment, they will come into force later in 2012.

This means the main changes will be for Group 1 licences, which cover driving cars and motorcycles for personal use.

  • For the first time, drivers who have only have seizures while asleep may now be considered for a licence after one year, instead of the current three years.
  • Currently people who have seizures that do not affect their consciousness are unable to hold a driving licence, unless they are free of all seizures for one year. The new proposals will allow people who have these types of seizure to apply for a licence while they are still having seizures, provided they have only ever had this type of seizure. They can apply for a licence one year after diagnosis.
  • And currently if a person’s medication is changed, causing seizures, but the person returns to the old successful treatment, they have to wait one year before they can apply for a licence. The new proposals say this wait should be lowered to six-month seizure freedom.

See the full response of the DVLA

See the current driving rules and regulations. Epilepsy Action will be updating its advice and information when these rules come into effect.

In response to the announcement, Simon Wigglesworth, deputy chief executive at Epilepsy Action, said:  

“We welcome the changes to UK driving regulations for people with epilepsy. The new rules are based on evidence. We believe they are fair and are an improvement on the previous regulations.

“Based on figures from the Department of Transport, Epilepsy Action estimates that around 275-550 people with epilepsy could benefit from these changes. Not being able to drive is not necessarily a barrier for people with epilepsy. However, driving can make a real difference for some people with the condition. For example, someone may be able to travel to a job further from home. It can also give them freedom and independence, and have a positive effect on many different areas of their life.

“It is important to note that people with epilepsy should only drive if they feel safe, and are legally able to do so.

Road Safety Minister, Mike Penning, said: “Road safety is a top priority for the Government and our licensing rules have an important role in ensuring that Britain maintains its position as having some of the safest roads in the world. We must make sure that only those who are safe to drive do so, while at the same time avoiding placing unnecessary restrictions on people’s independence.

“We believe that these changes strike the right balance in allowing as many people as possible to drive, without compromising safety.”

If anyone is unsure about how the new regulations will affect them they should seek medical advice. They also can contact Epilepsy Action’s helpline on freephone 0808 800 5050 or visit www.epilepsy.org.uk

Comments: read the 13 comments or add yours

Comments

Hello, I welcome this change. I have been recently diagnosed with partial focal seizures but until I knew what they were I drove for years, there has never been an effect and I can't see why there would be. Do we know when the new legislation may be passed? Thanks

Submitted by Kathryn on

Hi Kathryn

I’m sorry but the DVLA still haven’t set a date. As soon as we have this information we will post the information through our website, social media and in our member’s magazine Epilepsy Today.

Diane
Advice and Information Team.

Submitted by Kathy@Epilepsy ... on

i suffer from nightime sezuires for the past four years since having an abcess removed from my brain previous to this i was fit and healthy i have a regular pattern or so of sezuires which are under control through aeds so does that mean i will be able to apply for my lifeline back (licence) if so when do these new laws come into place

Submitted by paul gill on

Hi

If you’ve had a pattern of three years or more of sleep seizures only, you can apply for your driving licence back now. If you’ve had any seizures while awake in that time, you can apply when you have been one year completely seizure free. Here is a link to the current driving regulations http://www.epilepsy.org.uk/info/driving/agencies-licence-categories#stan...

We do not know yet when the driving regulations will change. As soon as they do, we will post the information on our website www.epilepsy.org.uk

Kathy
Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Kathy@Epilepsy ... on

thanks very much will keep looking on the web site

Submitted by paul gill on

Any idea when this law will change?
Due to a pharmacist mixing my meds using various generic drugs (without informing me) means i had a seizure in Aug 12. According to this new law (and my neurologist) i can get my license back once its in place. With 2 kids with autism driving is essential....and I am desperate for it to come into force ASAP.

Submitted by Leesa Buntine on

Leesa,
The new regulations become law on the 8th of March.

Submitted by Phil on

Hi Leesa

The new driving regulations for England, Scotland and Wales will start on 8th March 2013. Currently if a person’s medication is changed, causing seizures, but the person returns to the old successful treatment, they have to wait one year before they can apply for a licence. The new proposals say this wait should be lowered to six-month seizure freedom. So, it does look positive for you doesn’t it? However, the DVLA will be the ones to decide.

Rosanna
Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Rosanna@Epileps... on

I've been diagnosed with simple partial seizures. The last was March and there's a history since 2010. I got a second opinion though and they say it maybe isn't. What do I tell the dvla??? Any ideas?

Submitted by Shaun on

Hi Shaun

I think you have to tell DVLA exactly what you have been told. Their medical people will then decide whether you are fit to drive, or not.

Kathy

Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Kathy on

Hi Shaun

I think you have to tell DVLA exactly what you have been told. Their medical people will then decide whether you are fit to drive, or not.

Kathy

Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Kathy on

I have jme type of seizures and it doesn't effect my consciousness will this come within the criteria ?

Submitted by Jade on

Hi

If you have juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME), the seizures that you have would all be generalised seizures. This is when seizures affect both sides of the brain and consciousness is always lost, even if it’s for a moment. So if you have JME the new driving regulations wouldn’t apply to you.

Rosanna

Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Rosanna on

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