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Driving and health conditions

There's a lot to consider if you're an older driver – whether you need to declare a medical condition to the DVLA, you've been referred for a driving assessment or you're wondering what life without driving could be like.

What should I do if I have a health condition that might affect my driving?

If you've developed a medical condition or disability that could affect your driving, you must tell the DVLA – even if you're not yet due to renew your licence. This also applies if your condition has worsened since your licence was issued.

You might be worried that you'll lose your licence if you tell the DVLA about your condition – but this isn't usually the case.

It's a legal obligation for you to declare certain conditions to the DVLA. If you don't declare a medical condition that affects your driving, you could be fined. And if you have an accident where your health condition may have been a factor, your insurance might not cover you.

Which health conditions do I have to declare to the DVLA?

The medical conditions that you must declare include:

  • dementia
  • insulin-treated diabetes
  • Parkinson's disease
  • epilepsy
  • any chronic neurological condition (such as multiple sclerosis)
  • any condition that affects both eyes, or total loss of sight in one eye. 

Check a medical condition

You can see the full list of medical conditions and disabilities you must declare on the DVLA website

What happens after I declare a medical condition to the DVLA?

After you’ve declared a medical condition to the DVLA, they may:

  • make a decision about whether you can continue to drive based on the information you provide
  • with your permission, contact your GP or consultant or arrange for a local doctor to examine you
  • ask you to take a driving assessment, driving appraisal or eyesight test.

Having a medical condition doesn’t necessarily mean that you'll lose your licence.

You should be able to continue driving if your condition doesn’t affect your ability to drive safely. It might just be that you need to make some adjustments or adaptations to your car.

The DVLA might issue you with a driving licence for 1, 2 or 3 years and then review things again. They can also issue you a licence that says that your car must be fitted with certain adaptations (such as special controls) for you to drive safely. 

The DVLA can also tell you to stop driving if your ability to drive safely is affected.

Declaring a health condition to your insurer

If you have a condition you need to declare to the DVLA, you also need to declare it to your insurer. You may find that your premiums go up or that you need to seek a specialist provider – but if you don’t declare your condition, you could end up with a fine and your insurance policy being void.

How do I get my driving ability reassessed?

If you develop a medical condition, you may need to have your driving ability assessed. Or you might decide yourself that you'd benefit from an assessment, even if you don't have a medical condition.

You can get assessed through a local driver assessment scheme or through a mobility centre.

Local driver assessment schemes

Many local councils offer driver assessment schemes, as do Driving Mobility, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and the Institute of Advanced Motorists.

Driving Mobility centre driving assessments

If your medical condition or disability makes it more difficult to drive, then a Driving Mobility Centre can advise you on the best options for your particular circumstances. 

The DVLA can refer you for an assessment (and pay for it) if they’ve asked you to take one, but there can be a long wait. It can be quicker to refer yourself, but you'd have to pay – and the cost varies depending on the centre you choose.

What happens during a mobility centre assessment?

Driving Mobility Centres have trained staff who assess how your condition or disability affects your driving and look at what might help you to continue driving. The driving ability assessment includes:

  • a physical assessment to check you can operate a car’s controls
  • a cognitive assessment to check your thinking
  • a visual assessment to check your eyesight
  • an on-road assessment in a dual-controlled car.

You’ll also get to try out car adaptations to see what works for you.

Find your nearest Driving Mobility centre on their website

What happens if they say I can’t drive anymore?

If the assessment shows that your medical condition makes it unsafe for you to drive, the DVLA can tell you to stop driving until it improves.

If this happens, you’ll need to reapply for your licence if and when you’re able to drive safely again. The DVLA will provide you with a medical explanation and, if possible, tell you when you should reapply. It's a good idea to talk to your GP before reapplying for your licence so you can show that your condition has improved.

How can I adjust to life without driving?

If you’ve decided to stop driving, or you've been advised to stop by the DVLA, there are many other ways you can get out and about. Giving up driving doesn't have to mean giving up your independence.

However, it can be difficult to adjust to stopping, especially if you've been driving for many years – so it's important that you take the time you need to process the change.

You might feel worried about the cost of public transport or taxis – but if you think about the amount you spend on tax, insurance, fuel and maintenance of your vehicle, you might find that the alternatives work out cheaper. You might also be eligible for help with transport costs. 

Find out more about transport concessions

Also, the Hubs Mobility Advice Service, run by Driving Mobility, can help you find alternative accessible transport choices. 

Find out more and use Hubs Mobility Advice service

Most people find adjusting to life without a car difficult at first. But if it's making you very low and that's starting to affect your daily life, talk to a family member, friend or your GP.

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We offer support through our free advice line on 0800 678 1602. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. We also have specialist advisers at over 120 local Age UKs.

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Last updated: Jul 11 2024

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