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Brain tumours and driving

Men and women discussing brain tumours

This page tells you about driving after you have had a brain tumour. There is information about

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Brain tumours and driving

You may not be allowed to drive for a while after you have had a brain tumour. This depends on the type of brain tumour you had, where it was in the brain and the treatment you had. For many types, you cannot drive for 2 years. With pituitary tumours, you can generally drive as soon as you have recovered from treatment. If you had a brain tumour as a child, but you have grown up without any recurrence, you can have a regular driving licence.

You will find more details about the rules on driving for different tumour types below.

Fits

You cannot drive for at least a year after you have had a fit at any point, or been on anti fit medicines. But you may be able to keep your licence if you had a fit while you were sleeping and you last had a fit in your sleep more than 3 years ago. You must not have had a fit whilst awake during this time.

DVLA driving regulations

By law, you have to tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) about your medical condition. They will take back your licence and issue you with a new one, once you are declared fit to drive again by your doctor. You don't have to take your driving test again.

 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the living with brain tumours section.

 

DVLA guidelines about driving and brain tumours

You may not be allowed to drive for a while after you have had a brain tumour. This depends on the type of brain tumour you had and where it was in the brain. It may also depend on the type of treatment you had. 

The guidance varies with the type of licence you have. The information below is for people holding a car and motorcycle (group 1) licence. The medical rules for people with a large lorry and bus (group 2) licence are generally much stricter.

The guidelines include specific information about the following

Fits (seizures)

You can't drive for at least a year after you have

  • Had a fit at any point
  • Been on anti epileptic (anticonvulsant) medicines

You can keep your licence if you have had a fit (seizure) while you were sleeping and you last had a fit in your sleep more than 3 years ago. You must not have had a fit whilst awake during this time. If you go on to have a fit when you are awake, then the usual rules apply and you cannot drive for at least a year.

Benign tumours

If you have had a benign brain tumour in the rear part of the brain or the brain stem you can drive again as soon as you are over your treatment. And you can keep your ‘up to 70 years old’ licence.

If you have had an acoustic neuroma or schwannoma, you don't have to tell the DVLA at all unless the tumour or treatment has caused any dizziness.

If you have had a grade 1 meningioma, you may be allowed to drive again 6 months after surgery, if you haven't had any fits. If you have had treatment with stereotactic radiosurgery you won't be able to drive for at least a month. If you have had a grade 2 meningioma you can't drive for a year after treatment. 

If you have had any other type of benign brain tumour anywhere else in your brain, you cannot drive for a year. Then you will be given a short term licence (probably for 3 years). After 3 years, you will be assessed again, and may have your ‘until 70 years old’ licence returned.

Pituitary tumours

Generally speaking, you can drive again once you are fully recovered from a pituitary tumour. However if you were surgically treated by craniotomy rather than transphenoidal surgery, you can't drive for at least 6 months. The DVLA will need medical evidence that you are fit to drive before you get your licence back. So they will be in contact with your specialist before you get your licence.

Glioma (including astrocytoma, ependymoma and oligodendroglioma)

If you had a grade 1 or 2 glioma, you can't drive for a year after treatment. Then your situation will be reviewed and you may get your licence back.

If you had a grade 3 or 4 glioma, you can't drive for 2 years. Then your situation will be reviewed. In some circumstances, the DVLA will say you cannot drive for longer than 2 years before they review your licence. All these decisions are taken after consulting your specialist.

Primitive neuroectodermal tumours (PNET)

If you have had a low grade primitive neuroectodermal tumour completely removed with surgery, you can't drive for a year. Your situation will then be reviewed by the DVLA. The most common type of PNET is medulloblastoma.

Other tumours 

Any brain tumour, other than those listed above, means you can't drive for 2 years.

If you had a brain tumour as a child

If you had a brain tumour as a child, but you have grown up without any recurrence of the tumour, you can have a regular licence that will be valid until you are 70.

 

About the DVLA driving regulations

The regulations about driving are issued by the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Authority in Swansea. By law, you have to tell the DVLA about your medical condition. They will take back your licence and issue you with a new one, once you are declared fit to drive again by your doctor. You don't have to re take your driving test. You will just get your licence back once you are declared fit. 

The return of your licence is not automatic once you have given it up for medical reasons. The DVLA will contact your specialist and will make each decision on an individual basis depending on what your doctor says about your level of fitness and the risk of further symptoms.

You can find information about the medical rules for drivers on the DVLA website.

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Updated: 31 December 2013