In a single year the DVLA makes about 675,000 driving licence decisions on medical grounds. Many people who have either declared a health condition or have been told by their doctor that they may no longer drive do not realise that they can reapply for a licence once their condition improves or changes.
There are multiple conditions that require declaration to the DVLA, and not to do so could invalidate your driver’s licence. It is also a fallacy to believe that because you have a particular condition you will never be able to drive again. One of the core reasons why fitness to drive has to be assessed is the safety of yourself and other drivers. Some people may experience a single seizure in a lifetime, others may experience multiple seizures a day. The former will be able to get a driver’s licence, the latter will not.
The process appears to be complex, but, the DVLA must assess driver safety to the highest possible standard without throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Different conditions will have different criteria to determine when you can reapply to drive.
Epilepsy is a classic example. You will have to have been seizure free for a year before you can reapply for a medically restricted licence. There are some anomalies to the assessment though. Some epileptics only have night seizures. These patients can in some circumstances be allowed to drive again after six months of being seizure free, after all nobody drives in their sleep.
Go see your doctor
Before applying to have your driver’s, licence reinstated, go and see your doctor. The DVLA will send you a form to complete that will include your medical appointment history with both your GP and your consultant. Discuss your treatment and progress and ask your doctor if they would recommend that you wait or whether they would support an enquiry from the DVLA. If your doctor gives you the go ahead, then reapply.
If possible, apply online
There are certain conditions that you can reapply for your driver’s licence online. These conditions are: Epilepsy, Diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, a visual impairment, a heart condition or a sleep condition. All other conditions still need to be processed on paper. By applying online, you may speed the process up. When the DVLA hold a substantial history of your medical condition and you have filled in the declaration form, they will often make a decision based on past history. You will have to complete information relating to the condition and sign it. This is a legal form and if you fill it in with incorrect information you can be prosecuted, so be sure that you have all the information that you require – On some occasions, you may have to reset your driving test too. There are ways of passing quickly to prevent you from missing out of life for longer than needed – find out more here.
Complete the paperwork
With other conditions you will need to see your doctor and have them fill in the relevant forms that will be sent to you by the DVLA. You will then fill in a declaration of your own. There is a special team at the DVLA called the Drivers Medical Group that deal with all the medical applications and restricted licences.
How long does it take?
In some cases, the application is really simply a paperwork exercise. In other cases, the doctors at the DVLA will write to your GP or hospital consultant for more information. On occasion it may take a simple phone call. If it is simply a paperwork exercise, you can expect it to take between two and four weeks for your licence to be reissued. When it involves communication between multiple medical experts you can expect it to take up to three months, although if you have submitted all the correct information it will be sooner.
First time applications take longer as there is historical record
Your licence will be issued for 1, 2, 3 or 5 years depending on the condition and how long it was since it last affected your ability to drive. If you receive a 1 year medically restricted licence, then when you reapply it is quite possible the next one will be a 2 year restricted licence and after that either a three year or a five year one will be issued provided that nothing has changed. Currently the DVLA can only issue 5 year medically restricted licences. There are plans afoot to increase it to ten years for drivers that have recovered and been well long term as this will save a lot of money in revaluations.
Licences are also evaluated for people with physical disabilities, such as limb amputations and drivers of adapted vehicles. Having a long term illness or disability will not exclude you from driving, you may simply need to jump through a few hoops to get back on the road.