Fitness to drive

Explains the rights that you have to drive, what information you need to tell the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and how to appeal if your driving licence is taken away.

My right to drive

Are there any mental health problems that automatically bar me from driving?

No. The DVLA will look at each case individually. Whether or not you will be allowed to drive will depend on the effect of your mental health problem on your ability to drive.

Do I have to tell the DVLA about my mental health problem?

It depends on your diagnosis. You must tell the DVLA if you have a diagnosis of any of the following:

If you have a diagnosis of one of the following mental health problems, you only need to tell the DVLA if it affects your ability to drive:

The DVLA website has a list of medical conditions which you can use to find out what the rules are in relation to your particular mental health problem.

In addition to the mental health problems listed above, you are required to tell the DVLA if you have an alcohol problem, if you’ve used illegal drugs or have misused prescription drugs.

Speak to your doctor

Your doctor should tell you if you need to let the DVLA know about your mental health problem.

There is guidance for doctors to use when deciding whether you should tell the DVLA about a medical condition which affects your fitness to drive. Although this guidance is for doctors, it is helpful as it sets out the circumstances in which you will need to tell the DVLA about the above mental health problems. For example:

  • You don't need to notify the DVLA if you experience anxiety or depression without significant memory or concentration problems, agitation, behavioural disturbance or suicidal thoughts.
  • You do need to notify the DVLA if you experience anxiety or depression with significant memory or concentration problems, agitation, behavioural disturbance or suicidal thoughts.

Example

Sandra has recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She relies on her car to take her children to school and to get to and from work. Sandra does not believe that having bipolar disorder affects her ability to drive. Despite this, Sandra must tell the DVLA about her diagnosis because bipolar disorder is one of the mental health problems that the DVLA must be told about.

Am I allowed to drive if I am on section 17 leave from hospital?

If you are on section 17 leave from hospital (see our information on sectioning), you will need to ask your responsible clinician whether you can drive.

Can my doctor tell the DVLA that I shouldn’t drive without my permission?

It is your duty to tell the DVLA about a mental health problem which may affect your ability to drive. If you do not, your doctor can tell the DVLA without your consent. Your doctor should tell you in advance that they plan to do this and write to you after they have done so.

Example

Jacob has a diagnosis of obsessive compulsive disorder. He visits his GP and explains that his symptoms have got worse.

The GP is concerned that Jacob’s mental health problem may now affect his ability to drive. She tells Jacob that he must tell the DVLA about his mental health problem. Jacob doesn’t want to do this as he lives in a rural village and relies on his car to get out and about in the community.

The next time Jacob sees his doctor, she asks whether he has been in touch with the DVLA. Jacob says that he has not. The doctor warns Jacob that if he does not do so, she will have to tell the DVLA herself. He is adamant that he will not notify them.

The GP must contact the DVLA and tell them about Jacob’s medical condition and her concerns about his driving. She will need to write to Jacob once she has done this to tell him she has spoken to the DVLA.

What if I don’t tell the DVLA about my mental health problem?

You could be fined up to £1000. If you have not told the DVLA about a mental health problem that affects your ability to drive and you have a car accident, you might be prosecuted and your insurance might not be valid.

 


This information was published in April 2018. We will revise it in 2020.


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