Ataxia and Driving

I was diagnosed with Idiopathic Late Onset Cerebellar Ataxia in March of this year. It is deemed, by the neurologist, to be mild, and my next appointment is at the local Ataxia UK clinic in Newcastle in mid July. On registering with Ataxia UK I was informed that I should inform the DVLA of my diagnosis, but on contacting the neurologist's secretary, I was told that this wasn't necessary. At the moment, I feel okay to drive, obviously if I didn't feel okay, I wouldn't do it. However, I certainly wouldn't want to drive a long distance, and I have noticed recently that, when cars appear at side roads, and stop, before joining the road I am on, I have this feeling that they are going to pull out, so I wonder if this is my peripheral vision being affected in some way. I am concerned that if I inform the DVLA then they will come down heavily on me, and whilst I realise that in time I may not be able to drive, at the moment, I feel relatively okay. Also, I wonder if declaring such a diagnosis, however mild it may be at the moment, will have a hugely detrimental affect on my insurance. I seem to have been given conflicting advice, the diagnosing neurologist says not to worry, while Ataxia UK says I should tell the DVLA. Any suggestions please?

10 Replies

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  • Hi, my understanding is that you are legally required to tell DVLA. See Gov.uk for guidance maybe. My friend did so and was able to retain her driving licence but just for 3 years when things were reviewed again and then had another 3 years etc. I don't recall any difference to insurance. She still has her licence but virtually never drives, having decided that her ability to judge speed,distances etc and then to react quickly enough weren't as good as they had been and this was worrying her. She retains her licence for any possible emergency. I would think the fact that your neuro says not to worry is fine and not really conflicting - seems like this is saying you're still able to drive, but there is still the correct advice from Ataxia UK pointing out that you are required to let DVLA know, thats all.

  • I've got a 3 yearly driving licence & have recently had to renew. dvla know I have cerebellar ataxia, dystonia & nystagmus. No problem. I do have to go for an eye test to ensure I can read a number plate 20 metres away but other than that all ok. By law they should be informed.

  • Hi😊

    See - DVLA Medical Conditions for a full list of conditions they require to be notified about.

    Ataxia is on the list. It is a legal requirement.

    Often what happens is, after you fill the form in, they contact your Neurologist and GP, asking them to confirm that your condition doesn't impair driving. After that a 3yr licence is the norm, to be reviewed on expiry. 🙂xB

  • I have Cerebral Ataxia, with driving I feel safest with no danger to others, and my driving skills noway impaired. It is your own feelings with what you must do, and with how bad you are !

  • I informed the DVLA as if you don't and you have an accident it invalidates your insurance. after several months they told me I could drive for 3 years and then be reviewed . the CA affects my feet and legs so I cannot feel my feet but I had a spinal tap and can now feel my feet so driving is much safer now. I told my insurance company and they were not interested as if the DVLA says you are OK that's it as far as they are concerned. be safe ! Sylviax

  • Same problem my advice inform DVLA and insurers too risky not too basrd on unaurative advice my GP wouldn't say

    Hasn't affected my insurance you are either fit or not.

    Rodders

    Andover

  • Hi Jillj

    As a retired Police Officer you must notify DVLA of this condition. I did mine and was given my licence for a further 3 years. I takes a while for DVLA to make their decision. I didn't have a car so no need to inform Insurance company but understand it makes little if any difference to your premiums. My condition has worsened so i have made the decision not to drive as I would not feel safe.

    Colin

  • Hi JillJ

    As most of the posts above have said you must tell the DVLA you have been diagnosed with ataxia. This link is from the gov.co.uk website.

    gov.uk/ataxia-and-driving

    The next link explains what will happen when you notify the DVLA that you have ataxia.

    gov.uk/driving-medical-cond...

    I hope this helps.

    Harriet

  • I was told by a neurologist some six years ago, that I had cerebellum ataxia but only had a formal diagnosis two years ago after attending a specialist ataxia clinc in Sheffield. I also have a genetic condition, Herdatory Spastic Parapesis.

    Anyway I delayed telling the DVLA for a couple of years, because like you I was afraid of the result. It turned out that there was no need for concern as I was just issued with a 3 year licence, and it did not affect my insurance at all.

    My advise is declare it to the DVLA because in the event of an accident, regardless of who is at fault, your insurance will be nul and void, and you will be liable for prosecution.

  • To Continue - you must just take advice from your medical team whether to inform officials etc like DVLA. like what I did. You mention a headache to the DVLA and they will take your licence away, as it is protecting their interests, understandably.

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