ADHD and Driving in Great Britain (not Northern Ireland)

Disclose? Moi?

The below is a commentary on the information given on GOV.UK, the official website of the UK government.
Quotations from the website are given in italics.

I’m a diagnosed ADHDer that loves driving. In the 1990s I became an Approved Driving Instructor. Although retired from that I have an interest in road law and have become an advocate against what I see as abuses of the legal system by both central and local government.

I’m worried by comments that I’ve heard from recently diagnosed ADHDers about advice given them by medical professionals on the subject of driving.

I sit in on a number of medical appointments and have witnessed for myself the confused message that can be given, especially considering that the client is often punch drunk from the experience.

There are several common misconceptions and some professionals are woefully out of date – I revisit this subject every year or so and the wording on GOV.UK can change, which it has since I last checked a few months ago.

The advice given by professionals is important – it would be negligent not to discuss driving but any information needs to be spot on – once the cat of disclosing ADHD is out of the bag, at the DVLA, it isn’t going back in again and they can ruin someone’s life with a simple mistake in admin.

The newly diagnosed could do without the hassle of a fight with faceless bureaucrats to keep/get back their driving privileges.

Here’s what GOV.UK says


Telling DVLA about a medical condition or disability

You must tell DVLA if you have a driving licence and:

you develop a ‘notifiable’ medical condition or disability
a condition or disability has got worse since you got your licence

Notifiable conditions are anything that could affect your ability to drive safely. They can include:

other neurological and mental health conditions
physical disabilities
visual impairments

ADHD is clearly a potential notifiable condition so whether or not to disclose to the DVLA should be considered.
Telling someone that they should automatically disclose is foolhardy, for the reasons given above, unless there is a real concern that they are unsafe. If someone is unsafe then they should be told in very clear terms why that is the case and what is required of them.

The most recent changes to the text has made the position clearer, what they are looking for is someone that has ‘got worse since you got your licence‘.
Passing the UK driving test is difficult and it’s the official government approval of someone’s driving at that particular time.

Is a professional medic in the position to challenge this? If someone is clearly distractable or impulsive then they might not have the self awareness to know it – it’s clearly the medic’s job to tell them.

It’s worth discussing to find out where someone stands.

As a driver I make judgements all the time about my actions – should I do this, what could happen next and am I in a fit state to continue?

Yesterday I had a pint of shandy with my lunch and I drove afterwards. Later on I had another alcoholic drink (birthday) but I’d stopped driving for the day, we all have to consider at what point we transition from being a safe to an unsafe driver due to the variation in conditions (booze/weather/fatigue/familiarity with a vehicle or road etc).

I know of many people whose driving is ‘dodgy’. I don’t mean unsafe, I mean unsmooth or self restricted eg I know someone who won’t drive round a certain difficult roundabout – they’d prefer to walk home.

It’s a good decision, like my refusing to drive drunk. If something is beyond your safe capacity then don’t do it!

My point – anyone could be a legal driver and have driven to an assessment. Has the assessment changed their driving? If their pass was borderline and their condition is troubling then tell them to disclose.

What happens after a disclosure? The DVLA will write to the client’s doctor for opinion. It’s the opinion they should have given in the assessment, not kept a secret for later. That would be negligent of them since driving is a standard adult accomplishment.

I consider the blanket advice to disclose as a cop out and inconsiderate. Discuss driving and decide whether or not it’s an issue and go from there. If the client has a driving licence then questioning its validity, with that blanket disclosure advice, is tantamount to slandering the driving examiner that passed them. The caveat being that their driving capacity has decreased since the pass.

You must surrender your licence to DVLA if your doctor tells you that you need to stop driving for 3 months or more because of your medical condition.

You’ll usually get a decision within 6 weeks. You’ll get a letter from DVLA if it’s going to take longer.

DVLA might:

contact your doctor or consultant
arrange for you to be examined
ask you to take a driving assessment, or an eyesight or driving test

You can usually keep driving while DVLA are considering your application.

Is someone needs to disclose to the DVLA then they’ll need to disclose to their insurance company too. What will they do? They might withdraw cover. The premium should not change because they don’t have enough information to calculate their risk. Not yet.

When I started driving my sight was perfect, but now I need glasses. That’s a medical condition (visual impairment) which is listed but I don’t disclose…because it doesn’t affect my driving.

My eyes are definitely worse but I’m still within legal norms for eyesight, due to medical treatment (prescription – get glasses). Just because you have a condition it doesn’t necessarily follow that you need to disclose it, but you might.

I had ADHD when I passed the driving test when I was seventeen. I was a spotty, hormonal, mess with no driving experience. Many years later and I’m better in every way, apart from the eyes, and I’m also a treated ADHDer. Under the current rules I wouldn’t dream of disclosing, there is no upside but plenty of potential downside. If you are a legal driver, and are at least as good as when you passed, then you probably shouldn’t either.

If you are learning to drive then it’s worth talking to a decent professional that understands that there’s more to having a condition than the blanket approach.




Yes, that was definitely opinion.

About admin

admin, Dave, David, planetdave, le grande fromage (LGF) - it's all me. I was diagnosed with ADHD in 2006 and usually take medication. My path to diagnosis was so painful that I swore I'd do whatever I could to make things better for other ADHDers.
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