Declaring AF to DVLA

Ive read a few posts about this regarding declaration of the condition, but the definition on the dvla website is -

You must tell DVLA about your arrhythmia if one of the following applies:

you have distracting or disabling symptoms

your arrhythmia has caused or might cause incapacity

------------

My circumstances are that I am currently not in AF after my first ablation and when I was in AF my symptoms were fatigue and breathlessness when doing something strenuous but nothing I would consider distracting.

With that in mind I am of the opinion that I do not need to inform the DVLA as my condition and symptoms are not disabling, distracting and have not caused incapacity.

When i spoke to the specialist (not my gp) they basically said your not currently in af without going into massive detail. But should my condition worsen over the years I would have to review it if and when.

Its all so confusing and i wouldn't want to get caught out, but I'm following the definition on the website in my opinion.

Further guidance appreciated.

13 Replies

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  • Things aren't clear! As you say, there have been various posts.

    I notified both DVLA and my insurers some time ago and they have both said fine, no problem.

    It may be better to do something that doesn't need doing than to omit doing something you think doesn't need doing that may turn awkward later.

  • Agree with Relim. I notified DVLA over a year ago although admittedly at that time the wording was slightly different. They do write to EPs, GPs, etc and if they do then you formally have a definite line in the sand saying it's ok to drive.

    However if you have been diagnosed with SLEEP APNOEA (SA) then you must notify them NO MATTER HOW MILD the sleep apnoea is even if you are NOT having any treatment. This was changed in January this year. With SA they currently always write to your consultant or specialist doctor.

    With both you can continue to drive unless medics say no.

  • Until about two years ago one HAD to notify DVLA about AF regardless but then the wording changed and now you do not unless you are incapacitated by it. If a condition is notifiable then you have to tell your insurance company.

    Since you do not fall into that category then unless this situation changes you do not need to advise either DVLA or your insurance company.

    What completely confused the situation is that advice to drivers said that you did need to tell but advice to doctors said it was not notifiable. A situation which came to ahead at HRC two years ago when a doctor told us you didn't need to tell them. I'm not sure who managed to sort it all out but a change of wording ensued clarifying the situation.

    Relax, unless you black out or are unable to drive due to AF don't worry.

  • It goes on to say...

    "Talk to your doctor if you’re not sure if your arrhythmia causes other symptoms that will affect your driving, or if you must tell DVLA about them."

    So if you're not sure then ask your doctor if you have to notify DVLA. That's how I read it.

  • Look at the full booklet not the extracts on the webpage.

    gov.uk/government/publicati...

    .

    There is also a listing on cardiovascular disorders

    gov.uk/guidance/cardiovascu...

    .

    I see what Koll has said but unfortunately most GPs do not know what the true situation is. The DVLA document is 125 pages long covering multiple medical conditions. Wouldn't be reasonable for GPs to know it all!!! How many of them have it on their desk or even to hand? I know when I saw my Sleep Apnoea Consultant in May she had all the relevant section right to hand and handed me photocopies of four or five pages.

    The issue with the wording is "For arrhythmia causing or likely to cause incapacity" [my bold and italics]. This is where we are in a difficult position to judge.

    The document also says "Must not drive if treatment for any level of hypertension causes side-effects that affect or are likely to affect safe driving (but need not notify the DVLA)."

    Also another section covers:

    .."Arrhythmia likely to cause incapacity".

    ✘- Must not drive and may need to notify the DVLA.

    Driving may resume without DVLA notification only after:

    ■ underlying cause has been identified

    ■ arrhythmia is controlled for at least 4 weeks.

    Must notify the DVLA if there are distracting or disabling symptoms.

    .

    At the end of the day the key thing is what our consultants AND our GPs have written in their notes because that is the only thing that matters in the event of an issue in years to come.

    Latest info has certainly reduced the number of areas where it is compulsory to notify but that has put the onus onto the individual driver (ie US). However it must be noted that there is also more onus on transient situations / conditions (which can be in WEEKS not hours) than there used to be.

  • Hi I was told on my first ever identified episode of AF to advise DVLA because A&E doctor was unclear of what the definitions meant. I notified DVLA and I chose not to surrender licence as I didn't think it would come to me not being allowed to drive and they sent me a form. I gave my consent to them getting personal medical info from

    Clinic and Gp etc I haven't been incapacitated etc. They wrote to me last week saying I can keep license and they did not need to get further medical info. I think your case sounds the same. If in doubt tell them then you have got the letter ftom them as reassurance. I notified insurer and because I'd not had licence surrendered they weren't interested.

  • In my view you did absolutely the right thing.

    In nearly all cases you do not need to surrender your licence straight away (even though with some you have to stop driving straight away).

    When you notify them and IF they came back to say that they want you to surrender your licence you can still write back with additional information, etc. This happened to me with my foot and ankle problems (left). When I told them on the form about this this at the same time as advising them about my AF they wrote back asking me to surrender my licence. I then wrote back to them and gave them the then current measurements on the amount movement that my physio measured (originally no figures). I also pointed out that it was my left foot and I drove an automatic car. They then wrote back and said all OK. However if the measurements had not been OK then they could have reclassified my licence to be an automatic only or one where I was only allowed to drive an adapted car.

  • Getting my license in 1973 I stopped driving 6 years ago with the onset of heart disease. I was passing out anywhere at any time because of BP and HR dropping. I surrendered my licence because I didn't want someone's death on my mind for the rest of my life. ... I couldn't afford it anyway.

  • I asked the same question do I need to notify the DVLA. I have PAF. I was told that unless you are having blackouts or incapacitated then there is no need to inform the DVLA. I drive a car and motorcycle and informed the insurance for both. I also have sleep apnoea I did have to inform the DVLA of this. I received a letter back confirming no restrictions I assume they get in touch with your GP regarding this.

  • thanks for the feedback people, im thinking I've done the right thing but for a peice of mind ill tell them anyway!

    On another side, how does this fair for Life insurance?

  • I think that you have made the right decision to tell the.

    Life insurance is a completely different matter. If you already have taken out life insurance then your premiums (I believe) always will remain unchanged - they are based on the situation at the time of taking out the policy. However it is probably prudent to tell them because if they have any queries then they can be dealt with sooner rather than later. I don't know nowadays but in the past (circa 15 years ago) I know someone who was diagnosed with cancer and he was sent by the insurance company (free of charge) to have a medical at an independent expert to ensure he was getting the right treatment.

  • Hi I feel the DVLA info is pretty clear and as others have said you can always check with your Dr. I asked my EP who said that he was happy for me to drive as he had witnessed me going in and out of AF while doing an ECG etc and there was no 'pause' when I come out so no chance of blackout.

    Think of it, if all 1m of us with AF clogged the DVLA with unasked for declarations of our health, how.would they cope? !

    Either take their word as gospel and don't notify unless you have the disabling or distracting symptoms or ask your Dr to make the decision for you.

    Best regards

  • Ps life insurance is underwritten at the time it's taken out and cannot by law change in the event of your health changing. The only time they're allowed to withdraw it is if you stop paying or have been fraudulent. Obviously if taking new cover you would need to declare the AF and your premiums would be affected (upwards!) accordingly.

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