Driving and disability

Having a medical condition or disability does not necessarily mean you cannot or will not be allowed to drive. However, it is essential that you discuss whether it is safe to continue driving with the consultant responsible for treating your dystonia (or, if you don't have a consultant, your GP) before continuing to drive.

You must also tell the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) about any medical condition or disability that may affect your ability to drive.

Medical conditions, disabilities and driving

If you hold a current driving licence and have a ‘notifiable’ medical condition or disability, you must tell the DVLA right away.  You should not wait until your licence is due for renewal. You should also inform the DVLA if your medical condition or disability has become worse since your licence was issued, or if you develop a new medical condition or disability.

Should I tell my insurance company I have dystonia?

Most insurance companies will expect you to declare that you have a neurological condition like dystonia. FAILURE TO DO SO MAY INVALIDATE YOUR COVER SO IT IS ALWAYS BEST TO ASK THEM.

"Notifiable" conditions, disabilities and driving

Conditions listed as ‘notifiable’ include epilepsy, strokes and other neurological conditions, mental health problems, physical disabilities and visual impairments.  Dystonia is not actually listed in the A to Z of conditions but the DVLA  have verbally confirmed that, as a neurological movement disorder, Dystonia is considered to be notifiable.

You inform DVLA about your condition by completing the MEDICAL FITNESS TO DRIVE form which is either available on line from www.direct.gov.uk/motoring or you can phone the Drivers Medical Enquiry Line at DVLA on 0300 790 6806.  (Please note DVLA will only talk to the licence holder or you will need to ring and give permission for someone else to talk to them on your behalf prior to the call).

What happens after you have told the DVLA about your health condition?

The medical questionnaire that you use to tell DVLA allows you to provide specific details about your medical condition or disability.  The questionnaire also asks you to give consent for a DVLA medical adviser to request medical information from your doctor.  DVLA aim to make a decision from the information you provide.

However, if further information is required, the medical adviser may :

  • Contact your own doctor or consultant
  • Arrange for you to be examined by a locally appointed medical officer or local consultant or specialist
  • Ask you to undergo a driving assessment, eyesight or driving test

How long will a medical enquiry take?

DVLA aims to finish its enquiries as quickly as possible.  The time taken by DVLA to deal with your medical enquiry will depend on the medical condition you have and the information that DVLA needs to gather.  If a decision can be made based on the information you originally provided, DVLA aims to make a decision within three weeks.

If DVLA need more information about your medical condition, they aim to make a decision within 90 working days.

Decisions that can be made about your driving licence

Once the medical adviser is satisfied that all the relevant medical information is available, a decision will be made about your driving licence.  They will use the medical standards of fitness to drive to help with the decision.

The decisions that can be taken are :-

  • You may be able to retain your licence or be issued with a new driving licence
  • You may be issued with a driving licence for a period of one, two or three years if the medical adviser decides that a review of your medical fitness is required in the future
  • You may be issued a driving licence which indicates that special controls need to be fitted to the vehicle you drive to enable you to overcome the effects of a physical disability
  • DVLA will tell you to stop driving if medical enquiries confirm that you are not fit to drive until your condition improves.

If your driving licence is revoked or refused by the medical adviser at DVLA you will be :-

  • Provided with a medical explanation of why this decision was taken (wherever possible DVLA will advise you when you can re-apply for your licence)
  • Sent a notice that explains your right of appeal to a Magistrates’ Court if you live in England or Wales, or to a Sheriff Court if you live in Scotland.

Surrendering your driving licence

Surrendering your driving licence removes the need for the DVLA to make formal medical enquiries into your fitness to drive.  If medical enquiries are made and these confirm that you cannot meet the required medical standards of fitness to drive, your licence will have to be revoked.

Benefits of voluntary surrender

If in the future you wish to resume driving, you will have cover to drive under Section 88 of the Road Traffic Act, 1988 as soon as your application is received at DVLA, providing you meet the following criteria :-

  • A valid application is held at the DVLA
  • You are able to meet the medical standards of fitness to drive.  These standards are set out in ‘At a Glance Guide to the Current Standards of Fitness to Drive’ .  All medical practitioners have access to this publication, therefore if you are in any doubt about your ability to meet these standards, you should check with your doctor before resuming driving
  • You must have held a GB or Northern Ireland licence issued since 1st January 1976 or another exchangeable licence
  • You keep to any special conditions which may apply to you, and to your licence
  • You're not disqualified from driving
  • If you surrender your driving licence you will not be required to take another driving test

If you want to surrender your car or motorcycle licence

You will need to :-

  • Print the ‘Declaration of voluntary surrender’ Form
  • Fill in the form
  • Send the form to DVLA enclosing your current driving licence

Useful resources

FAX:  0845 850 0095


If you have any questions which aren’t covered above please call our helpline on 020 7793 3650.


The content of this information sheet is provided only as information and is in no way intended to replace the advice of a qualified medical practitioner or professional Government adviser.  The Dystonia Society strongly advises anyone viewing this material to seek advice on all matters relating to their treatment and/or circumstances.  Furthermore rapid changes in medicine and changes to Government legislation may cause information contained in the information sheet to become outdated.