Driving and brain tumours
If you have been diagnosed with a brain tumour, you have a legal requirement to inform the DVLA or, in Northern Ireland, the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) as soon as possible. You must also notify them if your condition worsens, or if any treatments or medication could affect your driving.
Informing the DVLA or DVA
When you contact the DVLA /DVA, it is a good idea to consider voluntarily surrendering (give up) your licence. If you do not, they could revoke (take away) your licence, which may feel more distressing. It can also make administrative matters less straightforward and often makes it harder to gain permission to drive again in the future.
When you contact the DVLA / DVA, it is useful to have the following information to hand:
- Your full name, date of birth and driver's number
- Type and grade of tumour and date of your diagnosis
- Any treatment you have had, plus dates, and any planned or possible further treatments
- Name and contact details of your GP and consultant
Failure to notify the agency about your brain tumour could result in a fine of up to £1,000, and you may be prosecuted if you are involved in an accident as a result of your tumour affecting your ability to drive.
Will I be able to legally drive again?
How long you will be unable to drive, and whether you are allowed to drive again, depends on a range of factors:
- your tumour type
- your tumour grade
- where it is in the brain
- the type of treatment you have had
- your symptoms
- risk of further symptoms, such as epileptic seizures or visual disturbances.
The DVLA /DVA will speak to your medical specialists about your individual circumstances to make a decision about your driving licence.
One of the major factors that will be considered by the DVLA in driver licensing for brain tumour patients is the prospective risk, or chance, of a seizure occurring as a result of either the tumour itself of the effects of treatments for a tumour.
If you voluntarily surrendered your licence, you can apply to have it back eight weeks before the end of the period for which you have been disqualified to drive, as long as your doctor has told you that you are fit to drive. You may be able to drive under Section 88 of The Road Traffic Act 1988, providing you have completed the specified time off driving for your condition and meet all of the following criteria:
- Your doctor must have advised that you are fit to drive
- You must have a valid driving licence and only drive vehicle that you are qualified to drive
- You must meet any conditions that were specified on your previous licence
- You have sent your fully completed application to the DVLA within the last 12 months
- Your last licence was not refused or revoked for medical reasons
- You are not currently disqualified from driving by a court, and were not disqualified as a high risk offender on or after the 1 June 2013
If your licence was revoked, the same process applies for getting a new licence, but you cannot start driving until the DVLA decides that you are medically fit to drive.
If you have an urgent need to get your licence back once the period of time you have been told not to drive has expired, you can call the DVLA/DVA Drivers Medical section to discuss.
You may be given a 'medically restricted' licence that is valid for 1- 3 years. Three years is most common. At the end of this time, if your doctor confirms that you are still fit to drive, you can apply to have your licence renewed.