Fitness to drive
Explains the rights that you have to drive, what information you need to tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and how to appeal if your driving licence is taken away.
My right to drive with a mental health problem
- Are there any mental health problems that automatically bar me from driving?
- Do I have to tell the DVLA about my mental health problem?
- Am I allowed to drive if I am on section 17 leave from hospital?
- Can my doctor tell the DVLA that I shouldn’t drive without my permission?
- What if I don’t tell the DVLA about my mental health problem?
No. The DVLA will look at each case individually. Whether you will be allowed to drive will depend on the effect your mental health problem has on your ability to drive.
It depends on your diagnosis. You must tell the DVLA if you have a diagnosis of any of the following:
- Bipolar disorder
- Paranoid schizophrenia
- Psychotic depression
- Schizoaffective disorder
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:
- Eating disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Personality disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
There is a list of medical conditions on the UK government website. You can use this to check what the rules are for your mental health problem.
As well as the mental health problems listed above, you must tell the DVLA if you:
- Misuse or have been dependent on alcohol
- Use or have used illegal drugs
- Misuse 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 medical professionals 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, you might find it helpful. It sets out the circumstances in which you will need to tell the DVLA about the mental health problems listed above. 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.
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 doesn't believe that having bipolar disorder affects her ability to drive. Despite this, Sandra must tell the DVLA about her diagnosis. This is because bipolar disorder is one of the mental health problems that the DVLA must be told about.
If you are on section 17 leave from hospital, you will need to ask your responsible clinician whether you can drive. See our information on sectioning to learn more about section 17 leave.
It is your duty to tell the DVLA about a mental health problem which may affect your ability to drive. If you don't, 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.
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 GP, she asks whether he has been in touch with the DVLA. Jacob says that he hasn't. Jacob's GP warns him that if he doesn't do so, she will have to tell the DVLA herself. He is adamant that he will not notify the DVLA.
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.
You could be fined up to £1000. If you haven't 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 January 2023. We will revise it in 2026.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.