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Driving Licence Revocations, Refusals to Renew Driving Licences and Medical Appeals

People rely upon the ability to drive for many reasons. We just cannot do without our cars nowadays. When it comes to driving, DVLA is responsible for all licensing matters.

A driving licence is no more than a permission to drive. That permission can be taken away by DVLA when there are grounds to do so. If a driver has a medical condition which may affect that person’s ability to drive safely, then there is an obligation by law to notify DVLA of this.

Unfortunately, that could lead to a lost driving licence. Philip Somarakis is arguably the leading lawyer in driving licence medical appeals. He has represented clients for the last 14 years, who have sought the return of their driving licence. Philip undertakes his own advocacy and has been successful in winning cases on appeal.

He has regular dialogue with DVLA and was requested by DVLA to provide feedback in improving its service delivery to customers.

One of Philip’s appeal cases resulted in an investigation by the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman (PHSO), which found failings in the way that DVLA made decisions either to revoke driving licences, or to refuse to grant driving licences to people who had reported medical issues. Philip’s case was reported in the Sunday Times.

Medical conditions fall into the following categories:

  • A "relevant" disability where the condition is prescribed by statute - this is a medical condition which is either prescribed by statute or regulation (such as epilepsy, severe mental disorder or significant visual field loss). A prescribed disability is usually a legal bar to holding a driving licence. There are some limited exceptions but otherwise DVLA is obliged to refuse to grant a licence. If a person already holds a driving licence, then DVLA may revoke the driving licence.

  • A "relevant" disability where the medical condition is such that DVLA considers it likely to render the person a source of danger while driving - DVLA gives the example of a visual field defect as a medical condition that is likely to render the person a source of danger while driving. Again, DVLA will have grounds to refuse/revoke a driving licence.

  • A prospective disability is any medical condition, which, because of its progressive or intermittent nature may develop into a prescribed or relevant disability in the course of time - an example is insulin treated diabetes. A driver with a prospective disability may normally only hold a driving licence subject to medical review in one, two or three years. It can also be a matter of debate when a medical condition progresses from being a prospective disability to being a “relevant” one. So for instance, not all visual field defects will automatically be regarded as amounting to a “relevant” disability. DVLA’s guidelines, which are comprehensive, refer to visual field defects that encroach within 20° of the point of fixation, or those that affect above or below the horizontal meridian, may be regarded as acceptable. Therefore, a visual field defect may be classed as amounting to a prospective medical disability, thus enabling the driver to hold a driving licence for one, two or three years.
    There is an obligation on drivers when renewing their driving licence to notify DVLA of any medical condition which may affect their ability to drive safely. Moreover the obligation is a continuing one and thus a driver should inform DVLA forthwith if advised to do so by for example a doctor, consultant or optician.

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Driving Licence Revocations, Refusals to Renew Driving Licences and Medical Appeals FAQ's

First of all you should be clear as to the reasons why your driving licence has been revoked. It is normal for DVLA to send both a letter revoking a driving licence together with a letter explaining in more detail the medical reasons why. However, in some cases this may not provide a sufficient degree of information for you to fully understand the reasons why. It is possible to ask for a more detailed explanation from DVLA, but it can take some time for a reply. You may therefore wish to ask us to assist as we regularly deal with DVLA in relation to revoked driving licences.

Your doctor or consultant should be able to advise you whether you are under an obligation to notify DVLA. The first step is to identify the medical condition and then check whether it is one which requires DVLA to be informed. DVLA provide a useful guide to medical practitioners which will assist https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/assessing-fitness-to-drive-a-guide-for-medical-professionals

Normally, diabetes is a notifiable condition. However, in the case of diabetes controlled by diet or tablets alone, then there may not be any requirement to notify DVLA, provided there are no complications such as hypoglycaemia. However, if you are in any doubt you should contact DVLA, consult your doctor or speak to us.

Not necessarily. Depending on the extent of the defect, this may present a bar to driving. Visual field defects that encroach within 20° of the point of fixation may be acceptable. DVLA will allow scattered single missed spots or a cluster of up to three missed spots (but not both). Consequently clusters of 4 or more missed spots would be regarded as unacceptable. However, in some circumstances it may be possible to apply for the return of your driving licence as an “exceptional case”. We have considerable experience in advising clients on this.

It will depend on a number of factors. If your reading was over 2 ½ times the legal limit then DVLA will treat you as a high risk offender and will require you to undergo a medical. You will also have to undergo a medical if there were two driving disqualifications within 10 years, or if the offence was failing to provide a specimen for analysis.

Get a FREE assessment

For a free discussion of your options with a member of our specialist team, call us on 0800 170 1538 or leave your details below.

We will aim to get back to you straight away.

We process your data in line with our privacy policy.