Anyone know how long it takes before you can drive after TBI?

I had a serious motorcycle accident on 3rd April 2014 and was in an induced coma for a week. I have been very lucky and now find myself at home and feeling well enough to resume normal life. After seeing my neurologist today I have been told I need to have a neuropsychological test and another addenbrookes assessment and may have to wait up to 12 months before receiving permission to drive. Does anyone know how long this process normally takes and the stages that you need to go through during this process? I just want to drive as soon as possible! Thanks Titter :)

Last edited by

19 Replies

  • 6 months for myself, judging from the questions it's mostly the risk of seizures that DVLA worries about.

  • after open brain surgery I was told I had to go 6 months without a seizure (lucky I never had one), when the time was coming to an end I contacted my surgeon who was happy to confirm I was fit to drive. I would suggest you ask your consultant who should advise you where you stand with your particular condition. You do have to notify the DVLA medical conditions that involve the brain or your mobility and I found them very helpful, you also have to notify your insurance company and I suggest that if you do this by phone you get the persons name and department and then follow the telephone conversation up with a letter confirming what was said. I had an unpleasant moment when a few years later my insurance company told me my insurance was not valid as I had not told them. Oh yes I did, and was able to prove it.

  • My hubby had a single seizure after his BI and therefore had to voluntarily surrender his licence to DVLA.

    He was never in a coma but did require just over three weeks in acute care then several months in neuro rehab.

    His consultant from the acute care hospital said tha due to significance of injury he should wait 12 months before driving though I understand that he could have recommended 6 months. We were also told however that you are supposed to be 12 months seizure free as is the case with epilepsy, so slightly conflicting information.

    The process that we went through was having to complete fitness to drive forms due to medical condition which we did. After this DVLA wrote to GP. To ask home to complete fitness to drive forms. Everything then went to DVLA medical committee. In our case it ended up being a further six months before licence was reissued, partly because delay in GP completing forms and then hitting Xmas period when DVLA appears to close down for several weeks!!

    My hubby was not asked to take a driving assessment as I understand that some people are asked to do or volunteer to do.

    At this moment in time his licence has only been reissued for 12 months so he will have to complete forms again in 9 months time.

    We were also told you can request permission to drive three months or so prior to the date your consultant has agreed as the paperwork takes this long.

    There is a list if conditions on DVKA site that you must inform them about.

    In reality there doesn't seem to be an absolute set process amongst GP's and consultants and DVLA. Some BI survivors do not inform DVLA at all and simply start driving again when ready.

    My advice if it is worth anything is take advice from your GP and consultant at least that way you are covered by your insurance company should anything further happen that might be considered related .

    Good luck I hope you get it sorted asap as I know getting his licence back made so much difference to my hubbies trance of mind.

    We had a different experience to Brighton88 in that DVLA were a nightmare to deal with but our insurance company were fine and simply said that if the medics had given permission then that was sufficient for them and all they asked was our verbal confirmation of this they did not ask for anything in writing from us or GP.

    I guess as with all service industries it is who you speak to.

  • To a certain extent, it depends on the after effects of the injury. For instance, as a consequence of my own brain injury, I lost a proportion on my peripheral vision and thus, will never drive again.

    I'd be fine driving as long as I never, EVER have to turn left. Could be tricky, turning left was always my favourite turn

  • Perhaps you could drive with my friend who hates turning right (doesnt like the on coming traffic!) and works out the route the day before so she can avoid the right turns (goes miles out of her way!). My own personal issue is hign level bridges but all to our own!!..........

  • Indeed, together we could take over the world! Or just drive to the shops

  • Thanks for your replies everyone,

  • Hi , I to had a brain injury on 25 August last year. I was in an induced coma for around 2 days, after having a few small hemorrhages. I'm a lorry driver and was a semi professional mma fighter. Basically when I came round from the coma and after the concussive amnesia was over it was clear I didn't need no rehabilitation.

    I didn't drive a car for around 10 weeks then I spoke with my gp at length about driving again, because I had to lasting affects and Nero deficit and of course no seizures I was fine to drive again.

    After a further 2 months I returned to work as a lorry drive and my Nero consultant agreed that this was fine. I've since had to give up mma, well competing anyhow, but I still train to keep fit. Hope this helps.

  • There are no fixed time limits. Before even considering driving you and the medical specialists must feel that you are not a danger to yourself and other people - on and off the road. You must be able to cope with mental, physical and cognitive stress of driving.

    You have to by law notify the DVLA of your injury. If you get behind the wheel or on a bike without doing this you will be prosecuted to the same level as "drink driving". The DVLA will send you a form to complete. On the form you will have to list your injuries, symptoms and the details of your doctors. They will then write to each of them for a report. In my case it took over 12 months of various forms

    I would apply to one of the Disability driving assessment centres whom will undertake a three part test :

    1) cognitive and risk awareness test which is paper based.

    2) A reaction and physical ability test on a simulator

    3) An on road evaluation in one of their cars.

    At the end of the assessment they will write to the DVLA informing them of the results. It can take up to 3 months to get an appointment with an assessment centre but it does speed up the DVLA process.

    Hope this helps

  • 10th June was the 47th anniversary of my craniotomy to remove two clots from my left temple area. Coma for two months and when I came round I was told not to drive as I was epileptic. Never bothered and probably just as well with my issues with spatial awareness.

    However, last year I had an eye test and the optician exposed me to a very bright light; as a result I fitted [petit mal] and its been happening ever since. I've refused medication; the last Phenobarb and Phenytoin caused me much depression - moreso than what I suffer today and I'm not going down that road again unless I have to.

    So I took to riding a bike but arthritic knees now exclude me from that ---- probably just as well with the increase of total idiots on the road, cyclists, riders and drivers alike, but driving? No thanks :)

  • Phone up your local Motability testing centre and they will advise. In my OH's case he had never actually been told not to drive (althought he wouldnt have) so technically he still had a licence. Neurologist said just get verification from mobility testers and she would authorise. all in all it was about 18 months after tbi.

  • Hi there

    I was in a serious motorcycle accident also. Are you going back on your bike ?

  • Eventually I hope to, but for now I'm more interested in becoming mobile on 4 wheels!

  • I was the same - aiming to get mobile with the car first took me about 6 months I think. Biggest problems I have now are new routes - I get lost, so stay local. My old car is low so its difficult to get in and out with back pain. I tried to return to my bike (it was my life) but didn't feel safe/right. Kawasaki was beautiful. Good luck X

  • My 21 year old son had TBI in June last year. Considering he was on life support he made a remarkable recovery. As advised by our Neurosurgeon we notified DVLA and he was unable to drive. His surgeon discharged him in September and his occupational therapist mentioned to contact his GP who can write to DVLA and make a statement saying in his opinion he was medically fit to drive. The OT was fantastic to speed things up he did a voluntary driving test at a specialist centre in Leeds , william Merritt centre and passed the test. We sent both these documents in to DVLA and never heard a thing. Despite many phone calls and letters we got no reply. We went back to the GP and he said he can drive he has been passed as medically fit and passed his assessment. So in October 2013 he was driving again, we finally got a letter from DVLA in March 2014 acknowledging the letters and said he could drive from October, glad he didn't wait. In my opinion DVLA are hopeless total waste of time. Good look !

  • I had to get assessed, my consultant said no driving and my licenc was invalid due to poor eye sight control, I had double vision poor balance, terrible thinking skills and divided attention. It drove me mad not being able to drive even more so when I went for the first test only to be failed without sitting in a vehicle!

    Very stressful time. I still get lost easily if I'm not in a place I visit very regular. I got lost trying to go to work after my accident before my consultant found out that I had got back behind the wheel without letting anyone know. I didn't know I was supposed to say anything to anyone.

    I have written off two cars since m accident.

  • Headway has some good advice on their website

  • Well, I will never be able to drive again. I am 'blind', officially (although I'd say 'partially sighted'). I'm afraid I know nothing about the neuropsychology stuff.

  • I was driving again after 3/4 weeks on from leaving hospital end Mar 2013.. They put no restrictions on you here in France like they do in UK , how I wish they had though. I was involved in a car accident 9 months afterwards, was on wrong side of road, hadn't realised, emergency stop - still didn't realise as I was watching other driver keep advancing towards me and then he hit me when he swerved too late to avoid it - yes I was stopped that I do know. However airbag effects have made so many problems that had arisen from BI, have come back worse than before.

    Just take care, ....I suggest.... and perhaps a couple of assessments from a driving school, because I now acknowledge it was previous symptoms, like visual awareness and perception that were still there without my being aware of the potential danger. I had thought I could rely on GPS to get me where I wanted and this may have added to confusion at the time.

    I tried driving again with a driving school for 3 separate assessment runs back in the Spring, , and although I felt comfortable behind wheel again, I do now know and accept I am not yet ready to be let loose and may never be. My car was written off in last years accident.

    I'm off another MRI next week. 6 months after I have finished driving.

    No trying to scare you, but with hindsight, who knows???? Good luck, and hope your recovery continues well. Shirley.

You may also like...