It’s something that crops up quite often in the Facebook group – “Can I drive after my cardiac arrest and do I have to do anything to inform the DVLA, insurance etc“. One person who was having a number of dealings on this subject was Stuart Menzies, who has a legal background and so I asked him if he could write up his experience of the process…
Cardiac arrest, ICD and your driving licence
As most, if not all reading this will be aware, suffering a sudden cardiac arrest or/and having an ICD fitted will mean that you have to give up your driving licence for a period of time .
This is a brief guide to provide you with information in relation to voluntarily surrendering your driving licence – which can be a traumatic process in itself – to re-applying to have your licence returned .
The reason for putting this guide together is that the instructions from DVLA can be complicated to understand and many questions have been asked on the Facebook group.
Hopefully this guide will assist people who are unsure. I should emphasise that this is based on my experience in assisting my wife who has unfortunately had to return her licence on two occasions in the last 18 months.
Notification to DVLA
It is a licence holders responsibility to contact DVLA and advise them that, due to medical advice they have been advised to cease driving for a period of time.
Your consultant will advise you how long you have to stop driving for [typically 6 months for those who have experienced a cardiac arrest].
This link provides details of a number of conditions, scenarios and how long you should cease driving for .
On occasions you do not need to tell DVLA of your condition , see the following link
Link for forms
Once you have identified the correct form associated with your condition from the link above you should complete it and send it off with your licence.
You will receive a letter from DVLA confirming receipt of voluntary surrender of your licence. You have to physically send your licence away to DVLA (not a nice thing to do but has to be done)
Re-applying to have your licence returned
Once your advised period of voluntary surrender has elapsed you will be able to re apply again and have your licence returned to you . Download the relevant form from the link above again.
Once you have mailed this you will receive a letter from DVLA stating that they have written to your consultant with an expected 6 week turn around . You do not need to do anything further (other than call them back on several occasions as this part of the process takes a long time )
My wife has now been driving for 3 months – no licence back yet despite numerous calls to DVLA
Can you drive without having your licence returned ?
Firstly – only after your advised time to abstain from driving has elapsed.
DVLA will send a progress update letter stating that they have contacted your consultant . This letter will also contain a reference to
Section 88 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 which will state :-
There is a provision in law, under this section that MAY allow you to drive while we process your application . You must meet the following criteria
- You must be confident that your application will not be refused due to any medical condition you declared.
- You must have held a valid driving licence and only drive vehicles you are qualified to drive.
- You must meet any conditions specified on your previous licence
- You must have sent your fully completed application (re application) to DVLA in the last 12 months
- Your licence has not been refused or revoked
- You are not disqualified from holding a licence by a court
If you fulfil these points you can drive again even though your licence has not been returned to you .
DVLA cannot tell you if this section of the law applies to you . If you decide to drive you MUST meet all the criteria listed in bullet points above .
Section 88 is valid until any of the following apply:-
- You receive your driving licence back from DVLA
- You receive a letter saying your licence has been revoked
- Your application is more than a year old
- You have since been disqualified by a court since you submitted your application.
You should carry the DVLA letter with you at all times should you feel you meet the criteria and be able to produce it to a Police Officer should you be asked to produce your driving licence .
Remember this is only if you voluntarily surrendered your licence due to a medical condition .
This guidance does not cover the circumstances if your licence was revoked.
Informing the insurance company
I can only speak from our own experience on this one and that covers an out of hospital cardiac arrest, resuscitation and ICD fitted.
We contacted the car insurance company. They advised that there was no need to inform them, if the consultant says you are fit to drive then they are satisfied with this.
I asked them to record our conversation should any challenge come from this conversation .
I tried to keep this guide short however the process can be complicated and I do appreciate that it only covers a few scenarios.