Today, we have a bit of a serious topic to talk about — one that’s extremely important for people to learn. If you’re a driver in the UK, you should be aware that you have to declare certain medical conditions to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in order to prevent not just facing severe consequences but also to help keep our roads safe.
In this in-depth DVLA medical conditions guide, we discuss what you need to declare to DVLA (and when). Plus, we briefly talk about what the consequences are for not informing the agency, as well as some of the conditions you need to inform them about. Ready? Let’s get to it!
According to DVLA themselves, you are legally obligated to declare medical conditions to the agency whether or not it currently affects your ability to drive. One key thing to keep in mind here is that certain medical conditions only need to be declared if it’s deemed by your GP to potentially affect your driving, even if it does not at the moment. DVLA currently lists about 112 conditions, disabilities and illnesses in total that drivers should declare — ranging from ADHD to vertigo.
This may be surprising to hear, but if you have a diagnosed mental health issue — especially one that’s severe — you are obligated to inform DVLA about it. This is especially the case if your GP or mental health practitioner has explicitly said that you need to do this. Healthcare professionals don’t tend to “recommend” that you declare a medical condition to DVLA, because they know and understand the importance of road safety (and they’re also legally obliged to).
Regardless of the severity of your condition, believing that it “isn’t that bad” and, therefore, you should go against your doctor by not bothering to report your condition is a terrible thing to do. Not only is it absolutely illegal, but that sort of thinking puts yourself as well as others at risk of serious harm. So, best to do the right thing and, if you have any of the conditions listed by DVLA, declare it to the agency as soon as possible after diagnosis.
Whether you’re fresh on the road, a veteran driver for over 40 years, or just about to apply to start driving, you’ll most likely have to fill out a form provided by the DVLA. Within that form is a section that will ask you to declare any health conditions you may have — meaning those that you have been officially diagnosed with by a licenced medical professional (like a GP). However, you’ll typically come across those forms when you’re applying for a licence or getting a renewal. There is a different set of steps for those who have more recently been diagnosed with a condition after they’ve received their licence.
If you’ve been a driver for some time and have only more recently been diagnosed with a medical condition, regardless of whether it’s six months or six years, you will need to declare this diagnosis immediately. Normally, you can declare your medical condition to the DVLA by filling in the DVLA medical declaration service online. Although the site is titled “Check if a health condition affects your driving”, using the service requires you to fill in your driver’s licence details and completing the form will automatically send a report to DVLA.
We should note that a lot of medical conditions currently cannot be declared using the online form — and the DVLA will tell you once you’ve clicked through the online form. However, you can jump straight to printing and filling out the appropriate DVLA form for your medical condition if you prefer, and either send it to the DVLA by post or by emailing them via the email provided on the form.
Whether you decide to fill out the DVLA medical condition declaration form online or through the physical form, there are just a few questions that are the same across the board before getting into more specifics. The main details that you will need to fill out are:
As you might tell, it’s rather important that you make sure that you inform the DVLA of any change of address so that their records are kept up to date. This allows processes such as declaring a medical condition to go much more smoothly because they will be able to confirm that you are indeed who you say you are. It’s also vital so that they don’t send back their response to the wrong address!
We know we’re going to sound like a broken record, and honestly, we don’t mind! If you have a diagnosis of a medical condition that can impair your ability to drive, you are legally obligated to declare that condition to the DVLA. Delaying this process by any means can cause you to be a danger on the road — which is a big no-no in our book!
In fact, you can actually get into serious trouble if you don’t declare your medical condition to DVLA. Here are the two risks you’ll face if you fail to declare your medical condition:
If a driver fails to declare to DVLA their medical condition, they can face some severe fines. According to DVLA, these fines can get as high as £1,000! Yeesh… That’s not going to make your bank balance very happy.
But that’s not the only trouble you’ll face.
If you’ve been found to be driving with a medical condition that can impair your ability to drive, you can have your driver’s licence revoked. This will especially be the case if you have been found to cause an accident, regardless of whether your condition actually was the root cause. Champion road safety and make sure that you declare your medical condition to DVLA as soon as you’ve been diagnosed!
Remember, if your doctor has told you to declare a medical condition they have diagnosed to DVLA, please do so!
If you’re unsure about whether your condition will affect your ability to drive, book an appointment with your GP as soon as possible to discuss your concerns. Again, road safety is a key concern of the UK government — they take it extremely seriously. You may be criminally prosecuted if you’re found to have an undeclared medical condition, especially after being involved in an accident.
With that said, please take a look at the full list of medical conditions that you need to declare to DVLA, and read their guidelines thoroughly. From the total of 112 conditions the agency has listed, here are 15 examples of some of the conditions that you definitely need to declare to DVLA:
While you don’t have to declare that you’ve been infected with HIV, you will have to if the HIV develops into Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Stigma aside, there have been studies that found that AIDS can cause neurocognitive impairment in a person’s ability to drive.
If, for any reason, you’ve had to have one of your limbs amputated, you need to declare this to DVLA as soon as possible. Depending on the severity of the amputation and how many limbs you have had amputated, you might still be allowed to drive — albeit with specialised cars.
According to the NHS, if you suffer from bipolar disorder, your emotions may go from one extreme to the other very quickly. Once you are officially diagnosed by your GP or psychologist, you need to inform the DVLA of your condition — especially if you need to be medicated for it.
Similar to being an amputee, if you’ve broken a limb, you need to inform the DVLA. However, depending on the severity of the injury and which limb suffered it, your licence may need to be temporarily revoked until you’ve recovered.
You should know that not all types of cancer need to be declared to DVLA, only ones that can greatly impair your ability to drive. Just be sure to discuss with your GP or specialist about your ability to drive after the diagnosis!
Diplopia is the medical term for “double vision”. It’s one of the vision-impairing conditions that you definitely need to declare to DVLA as soon as you’ve been diagnosed.
If you’ve been diagnosed with epilepsy and your condition can cause seizures, your GP would more likely than not tell you to declare your condition to DVLA. The risk of having a seizure is great, not just for yourself but for road safety in general, so it’s really important that you tell DVLA of your medical condition.
Any heart condition you may have, including heart palpitations, need to be declared to DVLA. While the occasional heart palpitation in and of itself isn’t dangerous, persistent palpitations can be a sign of a deeper heart condition. Be sure to discuss this with your doctor.
Hypoglycaemia, or low blood sugar, is a condition that needs to be declared to DVLA. This is because it can cause blurred vision, dizziness, disorientation or even a seizure.
MND, or motor neuron disease, is a rare disorder that affects the nervous system. The MND category also includes multiple sclerosis (MS) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Weakness develops and worsens over time, which affects your ability to drive safely.
Nyctalopia, or night blindness, is the inability to see properly in low-light conditions, including at night. As you might have guessed, this can greatly affect your ability to drive and, therefore, should be declared to DVLA.
You’ve heard of the dangers of falling asleep at the wheel? One of the most common causes of accidents from lorry drivers is exactly this. Sleep apnoea is a condition that can affect your ability to stay awake during the day, so you should definitely declare this condition to DVLA if you have been diagnosed.
Schizophrenia is a family of severe, long-lasting mental health conditions that can affect your ability to drive. This includes paranoid schizophrenia and schizo-affective disorder. Please declare this condition to the DVLA if you have been diagnosed by a GP or psychologist.
Usher syndrome is the inability to see and hear simultaneously impairs a person’s mobility, independence, and communication. “Dual sensory loss” or “multi-sensory impairment” are other names for this condition, as well as “deafblindness”. Because it can cause significant difficulties in day-to-day life, including driving, you need to declare to DVLA if you’ve been diagnosed with Usher syndrome.
While not exactly a condition, vertigo is a symptom that can be very disorienting. More than just “feeling dizzy”, a vertigo attack makes you feel like everything around you is spinning to the extent that it will affect your balance. Firstly, inform your GP that you’ve been experiencing vertigo as soon as possible and then declare it to DVLA because it can impair your driving ability.
What happens to your licence highly depends on what medical condition you have. There are certain conditions — such as post-surgery or heart palpitations — that might result in your licence being taken away. However, those cases are extremely rare and only occur if your GP has decided that the condition will indeed affect your driving. This situation also applies to conditions such as ADHD, ASD or Tourette’s Syndrome.
However, if you have any of a specific number of conditions that can impair your ability to drive, such as severe depression, vertigo, seizures (including epilepsy) or any type of vision-impairing condition, your driving licence can either be temporarily suspended — if the condition is recoverable — or it will be permanently revoked.
This is a complicated question to answer — purely because there are too many types of medications out in the world. While a majority of medications won’t affect driving, it highly depends on the potential side effects attached to the individual medication.
That being said, it is absolutely illegal to drive or attempt to drive if your driving ability has been impaired by drugs — and this includes prescription drugs, too. It is treated in the same way as alcohol, and your licence will be taken away if you are caught driving while impaired.
It’s always a good idea to discuss concerns about medications with your GP if they prescribe you anything. This is especially true for the 68% of Britons who rely on driving to get themselves to work every day. If you know that your medication can impair your driving, please declare to the DVLA by filling out the DVLA M1 form.
In short, here are some of the medications that can impair your ability to drive:
Hopefully, you’ve learned a thing or two about road safety and the need to declare medical conditions to DVLA. Road safety is not just the responsibility of the UK government, but it’s the responsibility of all of us who use it every day. If you know that you need to declare your diagnosis to DVLA, make sure that you update your address with DVLA if you move so that this process can go much smoother!