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Brain tumours and driving

You might not be allowed to drive for some time if you have a brain tumour. This depends on the type of tumour you have, where it is in the brain and whether you have any side effects from it such as seizures (fits). It also depends on the treatment you have and the type of vehicle you drive. 

You need to tell the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) if you have a health condition that affects your ability to drive safely. You need to contact the Driving and Vehicle Agency (DVA) if you live in Northern Ireland.

The DVLA and DVA regulations are regularly updated. The regulations below are relevant to people with a car or motorcycle (group 1) licence. The regulations for people with a lorry or bus (group 2) licence are generally much stricter. 

Contact the DVLA or DVA if you have any questions about your ability to drive. 

Driving regulations

Seizures (fits)

You must tell the DVLA if you have seizures. You will need to stop driving for 6 to 12 months from the date of your last seizure. You must also stop driving if you take anti epilepsy (anticonvulsant) medication. 

Benign brain tumours

You must tell the DVLA if you have a benign brain tumour such as meningioma that needs treatment. You will need to stop driving while you are having treatment and for up to 12 months afterwards. This depends on the type and grade of your tumour, and the type of treatment you have had. 

For example, you might be able to drive 6 months after surgery for a slow growing (grade 1) meningioma. This is providing that you aren't having seizures. If you have had stereotactic radiosurgery, you may be able to drive again a month after treatment. 

For a grade 2 meningioma, you cannot drive for a year after treatment. And if your tumour is a grade 3 meningioma, you can't drive for 2 years after treatment. 

You don't need to inform the DVLA if you have a meningioma that isn't causing symptoms and you don't need treatment for it. 

Gliomas

Gliomas include:

  • astrocytoma
  • oligodendroglioma
  • ependymoma
  • glioblastoma (GBM)

You won't be able to drive for a year after treatment if you have a slow growing (grade 1 or grade 2) glioma. This is usually reviewed after a year and you might then get your licence back if you aren't having seizures and you don't have any disability that affects your ability to drive. 

If you have a fast growing (grade 3 or 4) glioma, you cannot drive for 2 years. You may be able to drive again after 2 years if you are not having seizures and you don’t have any disability that affects your ability to drive.

You need tell the DVLA if your tumour starts to grow again. You will likely need to stop driving again.

Pituitary tumours

You can usually drive again after you have recovered from treatment for a pituitary tumour. If you had a type of surgery called craniotomy, you need to tell the DVLA and you need to stop driving for 6 months. 

If you don't need treatment, or you had transphenoidal surgery or radiotherapy, you don't need to tell the DVLA. You can drive as soon as you recover from treatment and as long as you don't have problems with your vision. 

If you had a brain tumour as a child

You can apply for a regular licence if you had a brain tumour as a child and you have not had a recurrence. This means that there is no sign of your brain tumour coming back. You must tell the DVLA that you had a brain tumour as a child. 

Brain biopsy

You must tell the DVLA if you have a brain biopsy. A biopsy means taking a small tissue sample from your brain and looking at it under a microscope. You might be able to drive 6 months after the biopsy if you don't have any problems that could affect your ability to drive. 

If the biopsy shows that you have a brain tumour, then you must follow the driving regulations for your tumour type. 

Getting your driving license back

It's common for the DVLA and DVA to ask people with a brain tumour to surrender their licence. They will send you a letter with information about how long you will need to wait before applying to get your licence back.

It's often easier for you to get your licence back if you have willingly surrendered the licence instead of having it revoked by the DVLA. 

The return of your driving licence is not automatic after you have given it up for medical reasons. The DVLA will contact your specialist and make decisions on an individual basis. It depends on what your doctor says about your level of fitness and the risk of further symptoms. You do not need to resit your driving test.

When you get your licence back, it may only be valid for a short period. After that, you need to check with your doctor if you are still fit to drive. 

Coping

A lot of people feel upset when they find out they can't drive. You might worry about how you are going to get to work, pick up your children or travel to hospital appointments. You might need some time to adjust to this.

Ask your friends and family whether they can take you to appointments. Or check your local public transport system. Many areas have community transport services for people who have difficulty using public transport. These include door-to-door transport and trips to shopping centres.

If you have seizures and are taking medication to control it, you are eligible for a free bus pass. You will need to apply for this with your local council. 

Information and help