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Regaining driving licence after three months "reasonable"

15 Jul 2003

A new study reports that reducing the number of seizure-free months that a driver with epilepsy has to wait to regain their licence from 12 months to 3 months has no effect on the number of accidents caused by seizures.

In 1994, the US state of Arizona reduced the number of months a person must be seizure-free to have a license from 12 months to three months. This gave researchers an opportunity to study if this reduction had an impact on the number of accidents caused by seizures. Researchers at Mayo Clinic reviewed crash reports from three years before and the three years after the policy was changed.

Researchers report 125 seizure-related accidents occurred three years before the new rule and 136 accidents happened three years after. Over the period, crashes related to other medical conditions increased from 288 to 310. The study also shows the number of deaths from seizure-related crashes decreased during the two periods while the number of multiple vehicle crashes increased. Overall, the study found the rate of seizure-related crashes did not significantly increase after the seizure-free interval was changed from 12 months to three months.

In an accompanying editorial, Professor Allan Krumholz from the University of Maryland, says the duration of the required seizure-free interval varies among US states from 18 months to three months. He states regulations are often based on arbitrary standards because of the lack of data on this topic. Due to this research, he says there is now strong evidence to show that the three month interval is a reasonable standard.