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Driving After A Stroke

family in carGeneral information

  • For safety reasons, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has strict guidelines about who may and may not drive.
  • A stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA) may affect your ability to move, see, remember or concentrate. This can make it difficult or unsafe to drive, at least temporarily.
  • This information is for guidance only. If you have any queries please discuss them with your doctor or contact the DVLA.

Group 1 licence holders: motor cars and motorcycles

  • You are not allowed to drive for at least 1 month after a stroke or a TIA.
  • After a month if you are deemed fit to drive by your doctor you may resume driving. In this case you do not have to notify the DVLA.
  • If after a month your doctor does not consider you well enough to drive you must then notify the DVLA. You will need to fill in a medical questionnaire (from the DVLA or online) which requests further information, about your condition, as well as your permission to contact your doctor if necessary. The DVLA will then begin its enquiries about your fitness to drive.
  • You can choose to voluntary surrender your licence by filling out a form (from the DVLA or online). This means that you do not intend to drive until your GP considers you safe to do so. No further action needs to be taken by the DVLA at this time. This does not mean that your licence is revoked. If at some point in the future your situation changes you can inform the DVLA that you wish to return to driving and they will seek information then about your fitness to drive.

Please note: if you have frequent TIAs you will be advised not to drive until you have had a 3-month period free from attacks. If your doctor agrees that it is safe for you to drive after the recommended period you may do so while the DVLA is making inquiries and coming to a decision.


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Group 2 licence holders: lorries and buses

The medical standards are much higher in this category because of the size and weight of the vehicles and length of time you may spend at the wheel in the course of your occupation.

  • The DVLA has to be notified and your licence will be revoked for at least 12 months following a stroke or TIA.
  • Licensing can be considered after this period, subject to satisfactory medical reports, if you have a good recovery with no residual problems which are likely to affect driving.
  • FAST campaign taxiYou will probably need to undergo further medical assessment by way of an exercise ECG to confirm cardiovascular fitness before a Group 2 licence is issued.

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Taxi drivers

  • The Transport Select Committee in 1995 recommended that local councils should apply Group 2 medical standards to taxi drivers. Therefore, you should check with your local licensing council that you are still entitled to drive your taxi.

Your DVLA enquiry and decision

doctor with patientA medical advisor at the DVLA will decide whether or not it is safe for you to drive. They will use the medical standards of fitness to drive to help with their decision.

In addition to your medical questionnaire they may decide that more information is required. The medical adviser may:

  • Contact your GP or consultant
  • Arrange for you to be independently assessed by a doctor on behalf of the DVLA
  • Refer you for a driving assessment through the Scottish Driving Assessment Service

A driving assessment is not a driving test. It is used to clarify whether you are ready to go back to driving or not.

The following factors will be taken into consideration by the DVLA when they assess your fitness to drive:

  • Permanent damage to vision
  • Problems with memory, judgment or concentration
  • Slow reactions in an emergency
  • Weakness, altered sensation or spasm in an affected limb
  • Speech and language problems, namely understanding of spoken or written words (Your licence will not be revoked on the grounds of speech impairment. The DVLA is concerned with your ability to drive safely at all times.)
  • Fits, faints, dizzy turns or other causes of loss of consciousness

Once the drivers' medical unit at the DVLA has all the information it needs, it will make a decision on whether you can drive. However, this may take a few months.

example of an adapted steering wheelWhen a decision is made both you and your doctor will be informed. The decision could be one of the following:

  • You keep your licence.
  • You are issued with a licence for a fixed period only.
  • You are issued with a licence that is coded to indicate the need for adaptations and / or special controls to allow you to drive.
  • Your licence is revoked.

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If your licence is revoked

If your condition improves and your doctor thinks you are now fit to drive you can re-apply for your licence.

If it is considered that you are still unsafe to drive your licence will remain revoked.

Be aware that the DVLA can also revoke your licence for non-compliance, for instance if you:

  • Fail to send back an appropriately completed questionnaire
  • Refuse permission for your doctor to be approached
  • Refuse to agree to any of the assessments requested

You are not allowed to drive until your licence is subsequently re-issued by the DVLA.

Provisional disability assessment licence

L PlateIf you are re-applying for your licence, after it has been revoked, the DVLA will have the option of issuing a Provisional Disability Assessment Licence (PDAL).

This will allow you to be fully assessed, including on road, by the Driving Assessment Service to determine your fitness to drive. The conditions of the licence may limit you to driving only for the duration of the assessment. You will be subject to learner conditions, such as 'L-plates', and driving under supervision. If the assessment is satisfactory, the DVLA may restore your licence.


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Scottish driving assessment service

The Scottish Driving Assessment Service provides an assessment which will identify any problems caused by your stroke, and make recommendations about your safety to go back to driving.

This service also offers:

  • Advice and help on any adaptations to your vehicle that may be necessary to enable you to drive after a stroke.
  • Information about driving lessons to help you to regain confidence or to help you learn to manage an adapted vehicle.
  • Advice and assessment for disabled passengers.

Your GP or consultant can refer you to the service which is based at the Astley Ainslie in Edinburgh. You will then be given the option of being assessed by the mobile driving assessment service in Inverness, Aberdeen, Paisley, Dumfries, Irvine and Dundee.


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Insurance

If you are considered fit to drive and wish to resume driving you must let your insurance company know about your stroke or TIA and any modifications to your vehicle.

If you fail to inform them, and have to make a claim, you may find you are not insured as some insurers oblige drivers to inform them of any changes to their personal circumstances.

Your insurance company may want a doctor's report to say if it is safe for you to drive again. You may have to look for another company if they are unable to provide cover.

Assessment for pavement vehicles, scooters and wheelchairs

It may be possible to arrange for an assessment to use a pavement vehicle (such as a scooter or motorised wheelchair) at one of the local Disabled Living Centres throughout the country.


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© Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland 2014 | Page last updated on Monday 27th January, 2014