Giving Medical Driving Advice (DVLA)

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Driving a vehicle is a complex task requiring simultaneous interaction with the vehicle and surrounding environment.

Environmental information is gathered through vision and auditory senses and processed by various cognitive functions such as memory and judgement. This processing leads to decisions executed by the musculoskeletal system to control the vehicle.

Medical conditions can affect individuals’ ability to drive safely. Medical professionals must provide patients with up-to-date, accurate advice regarding the impact of their medical condition on their ability to drive. This is vital for the safety of both the patient and the public.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) produces a document for the United Kingdom – Assessing fitness to drive: a guide for medical professionals. This contains regularly updated guidance for specific medical conditions.

Responsibilities of doctors and healthcare professionals

Doctors and other healthcare professionals should:

  • Advise the individual on the impact of their medical condition for safe driving ability
  • Advise the individual on their legal requirement to notify DVLA of any relevant condition
  • Treat, manage and monitor the individual’s condition with ongoing consideration of their fitness to drive
  • Notify DVLA directly of an individual’s medical condition or fitness to drive, where they cannot or will not notify DVLA themselves

This article summarises driving advice for common medical conditions. You may be expected to give appropriate driving advice during an OSCE station. In addition,Β driving advice is included in the UK Medical Licensing Assessment content map and could be tested as part of the MLA.Β 

Please note: this article only summarises guidance for Group 1 licenses (car and motorcycle). There are usually stricter rules for Group 2 (bus and lorry) licenses.

Neurological disorders

Condition Driving guidance
First unprovoked seizure
  • Must notify DVLA
  • No driving for 6 months from the date of the seizure, or for 12 months if there is an underlying causative factor which could increase risk
Epilepsy or multiple unprovoked seizures
  • Must notify DVLA
  • No driving for 12 months from the date of the last seizure
Single transient ischaemic attack
  • Don’t need to notify DVLA
  • No driving for 1 month
Stroke and cerebral venous thrombosis
  • May need to notify DVLA
  • No driving for 1 month
  • Clinical recovery assessment at 1 month to determine ongoing driving guidance
  • Notify DVLA if neurological deficit at 1 month
Traumatic brain injury
  • May need to notify DVLA
  • No driving for at least 6 months
  • Relicensing may be considered after 6 to 12 months dependent on clinical and radiological features
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Cardiovascular disorders

Condition Driving guidance
  • Don’t need to notify DVLA
  • No driving when symptoms occur: at rest, with emotion, at the wheel
Acute coronary syndromes (ACS)
  • Don’t need to notify DVLA
  • No driving for 1 week after ACS if successful coronary intervention (PCI) and if the following are met:
    • No other revascularisation planned within 4 weeks, and
    • LV ejection fraction is at least 40% before hospital discharge
  • If not treated by successful coronary intervention or any of the above are not met, driving may resume only after 4 weeks from the acute event
Elective percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI)
  • Don’t need to notify DVLA
  • No driving for 1 week
Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG)
  • Don’t need to notify DVLA
  • No driving for 4 weeks
  • May need to notify DVLA
  • Must not drive if arrhythmia has caused or is likely to cause incapacity
  • May start driving without DVLA notification if the underlying cause has been identified, and the arrhythmia is controlled for at least 4 weeks
  • Must notify the DVLA if there are symptoms that are likely to cause incapacity and/or arrhythmia is not controlled for at least 4 weeks, and an underlying cause has not been identified
Pacemaker implant (including box change)
  • Must notify DVLA of pacemaker implantation
  • No driving for 1 week

Diabetes mellitus

Condition Driving guidance
Insulin-treated diabetes
  • Must notify DVLA
  • All the following criteria must be met in order to drive:
    • Adequate awareness of hypoglycaemia
    • No more than 1 episode of severe hypoglycaemia while awake in the preceding 12 months and the most recent episode occurred more than 3 months ago
    • Practises appropriate glucose monitoring
    • Not regarded as a likely risk to the public while driving
    • Meets the visual standards for acuity and visual field
    • Under regular review
Impaired awareness of hypoglycaemia
  • Must notify DVLA
  • Must not drive until a clinical report confirms that adequate hypoglycaemia awareness has been regained

Psychiatric disorders

Condition Driving guidance
Anxiety and depression – mild to moderate
Without significant memory or concentration problems, agitation, behavioural disturbance or suicidal thoughts
  • May drive and need not notify DVLA
Anxiety and depression – severe
Significant memory or concentration problems, agitation, behavioural disturbance or suicidal thoughts
  • Must notify DVLA
  • No driving for at least 3 months
  • Licensing may be granted after 3 months if:
    • the person has been well and stable
    • the person has adhered to treatment programmes and
    • is not suffering from medicinal side effects that would affect alertness or concentration
  • Must notify DVLA
  • May be able to drive
  • The decision is usually based on medical reports which consider things like short-term memory, disorientation, insight, judgement, and attention

Visual disorders

Condition Driving guidance
Minimum eyesight standards
  • Must not drive and must notify DVLA if unable to meet the minimum standards
  • The law requires drivers to have minimum eyesight requirements of:
    • able to read a car registration at 20 metres, and
    • have a visual acuity at least Snellen 6/12 with both eyes open or in the only eye if monocular
  • The law also requires all drivers to have a minimum field of vision
  • May not need to notify DVLA
  • Often safe to drive, but minimum eyesight standards must be met


Dr Leanne Eveson


Guidance in this article is taken directly from the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency: Assessing fitness to drive: a guide for medical professionals.Β 


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