Following any brain injury it is essential to take your doctors advice about whether you are fit to drive. A period off driving will normally be recommended and you may be required to notify DVLA about your medical condition.
Following minor head injury (concussion), patients are advised not to drive for at least 24 hours post-injury; refraining from driving until completely recovered is recommended.
After “significant brain injury” drivers should cease driving for 6-12 months, depending on factors such as post-traumatic amnesia and seizures (NB different rules apply for LGV and PCV drivers); there will need to be satisfactory clinical recovery with no visual field defect or cognitive impairment likely to affect safe driving before driving can resume.
Other forms of acquired brain injury have slightly different rules but if there are lasting impairments that affect driving ability then driving should cease for a period of time. Because every brain injury is different each case should be considered on an individual basis.
“Significant brain injury” is generally judged as that which requires in-patient treatment.
Discuss this with your doctor before considering resuming driving.
If you have had a significant brain injury that could affect your fitness to drive, you must inform the Drivers Medical Unit of the DVLA, and your car insurance company. If you are unsure, your doctor will have access to the rules and will be able to advise you. Failure to notify DVLA when advised to do so may result in your licence being revoked.
It is the driver’s responsibility to inform the DVLA. Failure to do so is a criminal offence that could result in a fine of up to £1000, may result in a prosecution if you are involved in an accident as a result and could invalidate your insurance.
How to tell DVLA:
If your doctor tells you to report your condition to DVLA, fill in the appropriate medical questionnaire and send it by post to DVLA, the address is on the form. If you are applying for your licence to be reinstated send the completed questionnaire with the application form.
Questionnaires are available to download at: https://www.gov.uk/head-injury-and-driving or are available to order by writing to: Drivers Medical Group DVLA Swansea SA99 1TU.
If you need to notify DVLA, contact them by:
phone: 0300 790 6 806
or by post: DVLA, Drivers Medical Unit, Swansea, SA99 1TU
Give your full name and address (If the address on your licence is incorrect tell them), date of birth, driving licence number and as much information about your medical condition as possible.
What you should do if your doctor has advised you to cease driving:
If you have had a significant brain injury and your doctor has told you that you should cease driving for a period of months, you are advised to voluntarily surrender your driving licence to DVLA for that period.
Brain injury can affect driving ability and might mean having to give up driving until you can meet the medical standards of fitness to drive again, at which point you could re-apply for reinstatement of your driving entitlement.
When you decide to stop driving or are advised by your doctor to stop you will need to tell DVLA and are advised to send them your licence. Re-instatement of driving entitlement following a voluntary surrender of your driving licence is a much easier process than attempting to re-apply for a licence following revocation by DVLA. Download the declaration of voluntary surrender form from the website, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/declaration-of-voluntary-surrender, fill it in and send it to DVLA along with your driving licence (both parts).
The address for DVLA is on the form.
Returning to driving after brain injury
Driving is an important part of your independent lifestyle and integration into the community. Because we take our driving skills for granted, it is easy to forget that driving is the most dangerous thing we do in our everyday lives. A brain injury can affect the skills needed to drive safely. If and when you may safely return to driving should be addressed early in recovery. You, your family members and health professionals should all be included in this important decision. If anyone has concerns that driving may put you or others in danger, the health professionals may recommend an independent Driving Mobility Assessment, to find your local assessment centre go to “Find a centre” or ring 0800 559 3636
If you voluntarily surrendered your licence or if it was revoked you will have to apply for your driving entitlement to be reinstated before an in-car assessment or in-car retraining can be considered. If you surrendered your licence you may have entitlement to drive under Section 88 of the Road Traffic Act once DVLA have received a valid application if you meet the eligibility criteria and this may allow for an assessment to take place. If your licence was revoked you will need to wait for DVLA to re-issue a licence before any driving, or in-car assessment can take place.