Depression and driving

Hi all,

I am new to this community, and would like to post about the question of driving whilst suffering depression. I'm sorry if this has been brought up before, but I do not see an easy way of searching the community for previous relevant posts.

Back in March, I suffered increasing depression caused by work problems and ended up staying for a couple of weeks in a private psychiatric hospital where they started me on a medication - olanzapine. I was told that I needed to notify the DVLA that I was taking this drug, and not to worry as on its own, it would not stop me driving. Two weeks into the stay I was sectioned (because they thought I would self-harm, when I had no intention of doing so) and transferred to an NHS hospital. I was discharged from the section just five days later.

I then started seeing a psychiatrist and was made aware that the DVLA had written to her asking for a report on me.

The months rolled by and the depression got worse, and then at the end of July, I suffered 'an illness' that resulted in me being prescribed a medication to treat that 'problem'. I'm purposely not saying what the illness was and what the medication is, because doctors say that the illness and the resultant medication have *nothing to do with depression*. However, just three days after starting the medication my depression lifted. It was as if a cloud had been lifted from me. Since then I have been without depression, with increased mental and physical energy. Life was good.

I've done my own research as to whether or not the medication can help with depression, and found that in certain circumstances it can. But that's a topic for another thread.

During the period July to October, despite me having been signed off from the psychiatrist and my GP being notified, the DVLA continued to ask the psychiatrist for a report on my health. The psychiatrist 'forgot' to reply to the DVLA. The DVLA then asked my GP for a report, which my GP provided. However, the GP filled out the form totally incorrectly, specifying the wrong diagnosis, failed to recognise that I was better, and made many various mistakes on the form.

The DVLA then revoked my license. Since then I have visited my GP who has written to the DVLA saying that I am well. I went back to the psychiatrist who admitted her failings and she apologised for it, and we completed the form accurately.

I now have to reapply for my license and have had to engage a solicitor to argue my case explaining the various failings made by medical professionals along the way. It could be weeks before I get it back, and even then, and this is one of the things I am fighting for, I want my DVLA record to be as it was before they received the erroneous medical report from the GP. I have to consider insurance applications where they ask 'Has your license ever been revoked on medical grounds?'. If the answer is 'Yes' then my insurance premium will sky rocket, unfairly.

I am married with children at school and I'm currently looking for a job. I live in a semi-rural area and the childrens' school is in a rural area. My wife works full time. The considerable inconvenience and expense this has caused is enough to tip a lot of people over the edge!!!

What I'd like to draw people's attention to is:-

1. If you start a medication that requires you to notify DVLA, it kick starts a process of DVLA making extensive enquiries about you health.

2. If those enquiries are not accurate, your license can be revoked at the drop of a hat, unfairly.

3. You may have to reveal aspects of your health that you consider insignificant, but DVLA consider very relevant indeed.

For example, when completing the form, I told my psychiatrist that I drank 1.5 bottles of wine over a weekend, but nothing during the week. She told me that the amount I was drinking at the weekend has to be classified as binge drinking....... The form asks whether you binge drink.

I'm not advocating that people should avoid any medication that requires DVLA notification, and I'm not advising others to lie to healthcare professionals about their drinking habits. What I am saying is that there are many things happening these days, more so than before, that can result in your driving license being revoked, even when you are quite well enough to drive.



10 Replies

  • Hi Pete! Welcome to the forum!

    I can only imagine how I would feel at having my liscence revoked. I wouldn't be able to work and my children would have to give up their hobbies. What a silly world we live in when we're constantly bombarded with how important it is to speak up about mental health, but when we do we're got at from all angles!

    It's hard to comment on your exact circumstances, as only you are witness to conversations you've had with your GP and psychiatrist. However, it certainly appears that you've been the unfortunate product of people not working efficiently.

    My antidepressants have 'impaired driving reactions' listed as side effects, so possibly I should have notified the DVLA too. But then again, there are probably millions of people out there driving who perhaps, on paper, 'shouldn't be. How many people get in their car tired, or lacking on concentration because the kids are fighting in the back, or drive through rain when it would be safer to pull over and wait. It's a minefield!

    Hope to chat to you again soon x

  • Very true Lucy. I'd wager that half the population should not be driving if 'all were known'.


  • Hi Pete firstly welcome. I have never heard of anyone being asked to notify Dept of

    Whatever ( I'm Irish so it's different here) about you being on any psychiatric

    Drugs. At that rate there would be no one driving.

    The only thing is because you were sectioned that could have raised an alert

    And you might have more problems. But Pete I'm sure no one here has

    Notified the Dept of their Antidepressants. It's a pity you did, as once they

    Have that on file its not great.

    I found your mail.a Bit confusing , the bit about another drug for a " mystery" illness

    Curing you. Oh if it were that easy.! That would be great, I would be on that

    med for sure then.

    Anyway how are you doing now?

    Look forward to getting to know you more.


  • Hi Hannah,

    I only had to notify the DVLA because I was on a particular drug - olanzapine. Antidepressants per se do not need to be reported. It has something to do with the drug being 'strong' and/or for particular diagnoses. They started their enquiries before I was sectioned.

    Re. The medication that bumped me out of depression, well, it did despite doctors saying it cannot. Some doctors are not up to date with latest advances in medicine as my research has borne out.

    Anyway, I'm fine now. :-)


  • it is a good reminder to us all thanks.

    There is lots of discussion of the topic on the bipolar forums, I think the key is to proactive so that you can be in steering the process yourself, .....

    Bluntly asking the g.p. / psych if they consider you safe to drive with the prescribed meds, and with your current condition.... will put most peoples minds at rest..

    Apparently the dvla take quite a time to make licence decisions, which will be frustrating when you need to reapply for a licence. If anyone thinks they may need to inform the dvla of a condition it seems that you almost need to prompt the doctors what to say when you send them a dvla form

    Depression in itself is only notifiable if the behaviours with it are severe..

  • From what I've been told, the DVLA take bipolar very seriously, and are reluctant to grant licenses to those who suffer with it. (I don't have bipolar).

    Re. Prompting the doctor, when I was filling out the form with the psychiatrist recently, she told me that she absolutely has to report what's in my records as not doing so can lead to severe penalties (for her).


  • Hi, I have bipolar disorder and am awaiting my license to be returned from DVLA (4 months now!) I have emailed them several times to which you get a standard reply, "whilst waiting for DVLA decision you must follow your doctors advice" Somewhat contradictory it then goes on to say you must wait for DVLA medical clearance! Confused.Com

    Have spoken to GP who says I can now drive and she has documented this in my notes. My consultant says I can drive "short" distances!

    I eventually got to speak to someone in DVLA who repeated what was said in email parrot fashion.

    So can I drive or can't I? In short I'm taking the advice from Doctor and driving and keeping all the emails and noted all conversations witnesses etc just in case.........

  • Lizzyb,

    I hate to say this, but the law states that you are not able to drive unless you have a license granted by the DVLA. A GP or consultant cannot on their own permit you to drive without a license. Sure, they can say that you're fit to drive, but that's not good enough. If you get stopped by the Police, they'll say that you are driving 'not in accordance with your license'. That'd be six points on your license when you get it back, plus a fine.

    I know this may be disappointing to you, but otherwise the DVLA Medical Board would be obsolete. (Something I'd like very much).

    I'm still in the process of gathering my 'evidence' to present to the Medical Board, and it's costing me a fortune in solicitor's fees......


  • Thanks Pete , that is disappointing, I need to drive as I'm a community nurse hoping to get back to work next month. A friend of a friend is traffic cop I'm waiting to here from him. I know the medical side of DVLA do more than our sort of issues such as drink driving, accidents caused by those who have not informed them of medical conditions such as epilepsy and uncontrolled diabetes etc so I don't think they'll ever be out of work.

    I'll also check with occupational health consultant.

    Good luck with your legal battle and keep your fingers crossed for me


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