Losing driving licence due to cerebral vasculitis

I don't know if people with other forms of vasculitis ever lose their driving licences due to their vasculitis, but this happened to me, with cerebral vasculitis. My symptoms are similar to MS and other related neurological diseases, and so it's not too surprising I eventually lost the licence, even if it took some years to actually happen.

In the early years (I fell ill in 1994) I was still driving, but stopped almost totally in 1996 after a number of near accidents. My vision was becoming badly affected - very slowed-down and tunnel-like - and I was having increasing difficulty concentrating on the road and other traffic, and also controlling the vehicle with my hands.

My doctors weren't concerned about my driving then, and didn't realise how seriously ill I was - it would be another year before I was properly diagnosed, and even then they didn't realise how bad my symptoms were. Ironically DVLA only started to become concerned _after_ my immunosuppressive treatment had started, and my visual problems started to improve (one of the few symptoms that did improve in my case with treatment). Then my licence was temporarily revoked, and I had a range of tests to check I was still safe to drive.

I got my licence back after those tests, but for the next decade and more it had to be reviewed every 3 years by the medical DVLA team. I still wasn't driving though, apart from a very occasional short trip to the health centre, or the supermarket down in Monifieth. I knew I wasn't safe for longer journeys, and would only dare travel short distances when alert enough.

Everything changed this year though. This time instead of getting my licence renewed for another 3 years it was revoked, permanently. My consultant says I might get it back when my disease is less active. But I don't expect to, because my disease is progressive, and I expect the problems that make it dangerous for me to drive now (and I agree I would be dangerous) would still be there in future, even if we could put my disease into a proper remission.

Luckily I don't need to drive. My husband can drive me. And when he's away on business my Dad can give me lifts if need be. I also have a disabled bus pass, but can't use that so much: the bus stop is too far from my house for me to walk to. And I have a disabled blue badge for parking that I can use whoever is taking me out and about.

I miss driving, but know that I'd be too dangerous. So now I'm just fit for driving dodgem cars. Ah well!

10 Replies

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  • Can I ask what might be a really dumb question? Did your doctor advise DVLA or was this something that you did yourself. It was when you said that DVLA became concerned when your immune ssuppressant treatment started. I wondered how they knew?

  • I advised them of my diagnosis as soon as it was made. You have to tell them about something like this, or your insurance is invalid.

  • I don't drive either. Would be afraid to drive now.

  • I also lost my driving license because of cerebral vasculitis too. I miss the freedom of just nipping out to get a pint of milk on my own and being independent. Thank goodness for online shopping. I know I would be dangerous though as my reactions are useless and I get spasms in my right leg so knowing my luck I'd get my foot stuck on the accelerator. I also miss having my license to prove who I am ...

  • I was in a terrible state driving before I was diagnosed (WG), every time I changed gear I was screaming out loud from the pain in my arms! I was only driving small distances, less than a mile, but I'd be shattered at the end of those little trips. My eyes were in an awful condition as well. Since receiving treatment though the process of driving is completely back to normal for me now, but it never occurred to me to inform the DVLA. I have a blue badge as I can't walk very far at all, but I'll definitely speak to the DVLA as soon as possible. I'd hate to be driving illegally!

  • They'll probably not have a problem Emma, but may send you a medical questionnaire to be sure. My situation is a bit different, because my disease causes lots of strokes and brain damage, which is a huge red flag issue for DVLA. And because it's very out of control and has caused more strokes over the subsequent years that's why I'm now banned from driving.

  • Hi, I have already started to panic abiout my driving licence. I am still driving and haven't had any problems. I didn't know I had to tell DVLA about vasculitis (but my rheumy and neurologist disagree about whether I have it or not, I have been told I do by one and that I don;t by the other!).

    As a diabetic I can only get my licence for 1,2 or 3 years. I have always been given 3years but recently I realised that the last time it was renewed it was only for 2 years. It expires in April 2012 and I am now getting worried that I won't get it renewed.

  • Hi Louise, i have CNSV and have not had to declare it to DVLA i checked with my consultant and GP and both had no issues. According to DVLA if you have residual issues one month after a stroke then you need to declare it for assessment. When i lost my sight in one eye through the vasculitis for 6 weeks i made the decision not to drive because i had no depth perception.i made my decision clear to my treating medics so again i did not involve dvla. Basically i use common sense re the vasculitis bit like you would do if you had intended in the past to have a night out and a drink you would book a taxi and not drive. Somedays i know i am not up to driving but usually those days i am not up to going out anyway. Judge each part/symptom of your vasculitis on its own merit and try to remain objective.

  • Be careful about this. It's not up to doctors whether a condition needs to be declared. It's a legal requirement for drivers to tell them. "The law requires you to tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) about any condition that may affect your ability to drive safely. If you are involved in an accident and it is found that your health condition was a contributing factor, you may be prosecuted and your insurance may not be valid." (http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring/DriverLicensing/MedicalRulesForDrivers/MedicalA-Z/index.htm) Which is why I told DVLA of my case. Better to be safe than sorry. If there's no risk DVLA will pass the driver as fit to drive with no qualms.

  • Hi

    Thank you for your reply. Hopefully my driving ability will be ok and when I have to apply to renew my licence it will go through ok. Will wait and see what the next few months bring.

    Thanks

    Louise

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