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Driving with a medical condition

What the DVLA need to know

There are some medical conditions and disabilities that can make it unsafe to drive and can invalidate your car insurance.

Take a look at which medical conditions you can and can’t drive with – and what you need to report to the DVLA.

Driving with a medical condition

Can you drive with a visual impairment?

There are 3 elements to the standards of vision for car drivers:

  • You must be able to read a car number plate from 20 metres
  • You must have visual acuity of at least 0.5 (6/12) on the Snellen scale (or, 20/40 vision)
  • You must have an adequate field of vision (your optician can advise if your field of vision is limited)

If you need glasses or contact lenses, you can wear them to meet these requirements, but you'll always need to wear them while you're driving.

Some medical conditions, including some eyesight conditions such as glaucoma, macular generation and diplopia (double vision) must be reported to the DVLA so they can assess your ability to drive. If you don’t let the DVLA know about a listed condition you can be fined up to £1000. 

Can you drive if you're deaf?

There are no restrictions on driving a car or motorbike if you’re deaf and you don’t need to tell the DVLA either.

There’s nothing to suggest that not being able to hear makes someone a less safe driver. Many deaf or hearing impaired drivers have special detectors in their car that let them know when an emergency vehicle is approaching. So being unable to hear a siren isn’t an issue.

Can you drive if you're colour blind?

Yes – it’s totally safe to drive if you're colourblind. While much communication on the road includes a colour element, such as road signs and traffic signals, it’s generally possible for colour-blind drivers to understand them. You don’t need to tell the DVLA if you’re colour blind. 

Can you drive after surgery?

You really shouldn't drive after any medical procedure until your doctor says it's safe to do so. If you've had a general anaesthetic, you mustn't drive for at least 48 hours to allow the drugs to leave your system.

If you've had an injury or procedure that's likely to affect you for 3 months or longer (for example, a broken arm), you must let the DVLA know. If you're able to keep full control over the vehicle, you may be able to continue driving with an injury, but if you don't report this, you could invalidate your insurance policy or face criminal charges for driving without due care and attention.

Can you drive if you're epileptic?

Epilepsy is one condition that can seriously affect your driving. If you’ve experienced any kind of fit, seizure or convulsion, you must report your condition to the DVLA.

Can you drive with diabetes?

It depends on the type of diabetes and your method of treatment. 

If you have diabetes that's treated with insulin, you must give the DVLA details of your condition and wait for their decision.

With diabetes that’s treated by tablets or non-insulin injections, you should check with your doctor or nurse to see if you need to tell the DVLA.

Where your diabetes is treated by diet alone, you don’t need to tell the DVLA and you can carry on driving as usual.

How do you report a medical condition to the DVLA?

You can usually report your medical condition online. Once you've done this, the DVLA will get back to you with their decision. This may involve getting a new driving licence or making modifications to your vehicle. 

If you've been told by a doctor to stop driving, you'll need to download a form to fill out and send to the DVLA, along with your licence.

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