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Driving and brain tumours

We know from speaking to our community, that the legalities and processes of driving once you have a brain tumour diagnosis is a topic that is raised frequently and is understandably, a source of frustration for many people. We hope that this guide will provide some guidance and support to help make this as smooth as possible.

About the Author

 “I was diagnosed with an 8x7x6 cm Atypical Meningioma, in 2013, which I had resected at Addenbrookes in August 2013.  There were a few complications due to infection, and I had the bone flap removed.  I chose not to have a plate fitted due to the infection risk.

I am now fully recovered, but still on a very low dose of Keppra, which keeps the DVLA happy and I’m currently on my third, three year driving licence.

I’ve been actively supporting the Norfolk Constabulary, as a volunteer, for almost 10 years.  I help to train Police recruits, assist their firearms and close protection officers and occasionally get to drive marked police vehicles.

I’m also an active member of the Brain Tumour Charity’s online support groups, offering advice and updates to those struggling with issues related to reapplying for a driving licence and answering questions around the driving laws affecting our community. 

I hope you find this blog useful.

Best wishes – Paul”

First steps once you have a diagnosis

If you are told not to drive, bear in mind it is your responsibility to inform the DVLA of this -if you don’t you could face a fine and have your licence revoked.  Your insurance will also be invalid.  

Your doctor will only tell the DVLA, if they become aware that you are driving against their advice. It is not sufficient to simply stop driving, you must do it properly by informing the DVLA.

In some cases you may be able to continue to drive until such time as treatment is required.  It’s always best to check the DVLA information here: www.gov.uk/guidance/neurological-disorders-assessing-fitness-to-drive.

If you can continue to drive right up to the start of treatment you can do all the paperwork in advance, but don’t post it, just in case treatment is delayed.

If you have to stop driving then it’s important that you surrender your licence* as it makes it much easier and quicker to get back on the road.   In some cases you may not have to surrender your licence – see above – but for nearly all types of brain tumour, you must at least advise the DVLA. The form is available to download from www.Gov.uk.  It is important to use this form as if you don’t, your licence may get revoked.  It’s called ‘declaration of voluntary surrender for medical reasons’.

Keep a copy of everything!

It’s also a good idea to keep a photocopy, or photo of your licence as it has your full name and the all-important driver number, which you should use in all correspondence with the DVLA. This is when you actually return your licence.

When contacting the DVLA the following information is essential to have to hand:

–           Full name, including middle names

–           Address

–           D.O.B

–           Driving Licence Number

–           Consultant(s) name, occupation and hospital

–           DVLA Ref No. from any previous correspondence

Often they will confirm that you have surrendered your licence.  Hold on to that letter as it may enable you to get a bus pass, or even in some places train travel. If you are going back to work and public transport is a problem then an ‘Access to Work’ grant may be available from the DWP, which will help with taxi fares.

Further information on assessing fitness to drive can be found on the Government website, here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/assessing-fitness-to-drive-a-guide-for-medical-professionals

Getting back on the road

When you surrender your licence they should tell you when you can re-apply.  Usually, you can apply up to 56 days (8 weeks) in advance of the end of your no drive period. It’s very important not to reapply any sooner, as they won’t look at it and may even reject your licence application.

The paperwork will normally comprise of Form D1 the application form (available at most post offices) and a medical form B1 & FEP1 if you have had seizures, which you can download if you need to from the www.gov.uk website:

B1: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/b1-online-confidential-medical-information 

FEP1: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fep1-confidential-medical-information

Complete it all very carefully and always keep a copy.

It’s important to be in regular contact with your consultant and to ask for confirmation of when they receive and respond to the DVLA enquiry, to prevent any unnecessary delays with the DVLA receiving your medical information.

You may find it useful to take a look at the Government information on Section 88, as it sets out information about you driving whilst they are processing your application.  Once you have re-applied (and you have completed your no drive period), you may well be able to drive whilst they process things. However, be aware that you can only use Section 88 if you have surrendered your licence. Further information on section 88 can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/inf1886-can-i-drive-while-my-application-is-with-dvla

There are often long delays of some months or more for processing applications. However, if you are using Section 88, it is important you have a current application, which means one less than 12 months old.  If need be, submit a new one and mark it ‘second application’. 

If you wish to make a formal complaint, you can find out how to do this here: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/driver-and-vehicle-licensing-agency/about/complaints-procedure

We hope that you find this blog a practical resource to help you navigate the ins and outs of the processes and rules around driving with a brain tumour.  For further information and FAQs, please also refer to this page on the website: https://www.thebraintumourcharity.org/living-with-a-brain-tumour/maintaining-your-independence/driving-and-brain-tumours/ 

*If you have surrendered your driving licence and this is your only form of photo ID, PASS ID cards are nationally recognised and accredited photographic ID proof of age card available to all ages 18+. They cost £15.  These are recognised by the Police and security industry, but may not be recognised by all financial institutions. You can find out more about them here: www.pass-scheme.org.uk.