Research by insurers has revealed that most people fail to disclose a medical condition because they believe it has no effect on their driving.
However, some medical conditions do affect your ability to drive safely as illustrated below.
The DVLA must be informed if you have a driving licence and subsequently develop a ‘notifiable’ medical condition or disability, or a condition or disability has worsened since the licence was obtained.
Notifiable conditions are anything that could affect a person’s ability to drive safely. They can include:
- Epilepsy including fits or blackouts
- Any brain surgery, severe head injuries or brain tumours
- Other neurological conditions such as repeated attacks of sudden disabling giddiness
- Narcolepsy or sleep apnoea syndrome
- Physical disabilities such as limb problems, where driving is restricted to certain cars, or those with adapted controls
- Visual impairments, for example only partial sight
It is also important to bear in mind that certain medical conditions can affect car insurance. Therefore a policyholder has a duty to disclose to their insurance company any medical conditions which could affect their driving. A claim on your car insurance could be invalidated if you have failed to disclose a notifiable medical condition, or for example if your eyesight doesn’t meet the legal minimum requirement.
Once a person has informed the DVLA of a medical condition or disability, the medical advisers will decide whether or not they satisfy the medical standards of fitness to drive. A medical questionnaire must be completed to notify the DVLA as to the specific details about the medical condition or disability. The questionnaire also enables the applicant to provide their consent for the DVLA medical adviser to request medical information from the person’s doctor, if this is needed.
Wherever possible a decision will be made based on the information provided in the medical questionnaire. However, if further information is required, the medical adviser may:
- contact the person’s doctor and/or consultant
- arrange for them to be examined by a locally appointed medical officer, local consultant or specialist
- request that they undergo a driving assessment, eyesight or driving test
There are different rules for when a person can drive again dependant upon whether the licence was voluntarily surrendered, or if it was revoked or refused for medical reasons. If someone has their driving licence revoked or refused for medical reasons, then they can reapply once a doctor has confirmed that they meet the medical standards for driving.
A driver can be fined up to £1,000 if they fail to tell DVLA about a medical condition that affects their driving. You may also be prosecuted if you are involved in an accident as a result.
Anonymous reporting to DVLA
If you see dangerous driving, whether that be an intoxicated and disorderly driver, or an elderly driver seemingly with eyesight or co-ordination issues, it is important that the incident is reported to prevent them causing a serious accident which could prove fatal.
The DVLA has a section on their website that allows you to fill in an incident form. The box at the bottom requires you to provide as many details as possible about the person you are reporting, their fitness to drive and if there were any incidents in particular you would like to report.
The form asks for personal details but there is a statement on the form to tell you that your information will not be released to anyone or any third parties. You will also be asked to provide the details of the driver in question, including their name, address etc. You will also be asked for their driving licence number if it is known. After the form has been submitted the DVLA may get back in contact with you for further information and they will take the appropriate action.
The DVLA general enquiries form offers the chance to report on a lot of subject matters. The relevant section you will need when reporting a driving incident will be ‘I have concerns over a person’s fitness to drive and I wish to tell the DVLA.’
Under Doctor’s Orders
If a doctor has declared that you are medically unfit to drive, it is the law that you hand your licence back to the DVLA. GPs also have a duty of protection to inform authorities if they have declared a patient as unfit and they are still continuing to drive. Contrary to what some people may believe, GPs do not need a patient’s consent to do this. Whilst doctors do guarantee confidentiality between them and a patient, they are not risking their position if they report a patient to the DVLA who is continuing to drive, despite being warned. Confidentiality is not absolute, and reporting a dangerous driver is far more important.
Similarly if you have a loved one that you suspect is not fit to drive, you should advise that they visit a GP and get their opinion. Research has shown that people are more likely to listen to their GP than they would to a friend or family member when it comes to the safety of their driving.
If in doubt; check it out
The message is simple; if you or someone you know has a medical condition which could affect their driving ability then check with DVLA – hiding it isn’t worth the risk
Siobhan specialises in accessing rehabilitation and compensation for adults and children suffering from serious and catastrophic injuries. Freephone: 0800 157 7611 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Moore Blatch LLP is a leading UK law firm acting in civil clams for those who have suffered life changing injuries or have been bereaved.