Brain tumours

A place for people affected by brain tumours or brain cancer to support one another, ask questions, and share their experiences.

Driving and DVLA

Posted by

Has anyone in this forum had experiences with the DVLA ? The DVLA needs to be notified if you have a brain tumour, brain surgery, epilepsy and so on.

You can apply to have your license back, or you can apply to retain your license, but chances are the tumour is not going to go away.

The epilepsy is also a tricky one, as many patients, myself included, have very mild forms of epilepsy, which do not affect our ability to walk, talk, drive, operate machines etc. In my case my "epilepsy" is a twingling sensation on the back of my arm.

However simply the term "epilepsy" coupled with "brain tumour" may be enough for a DVLA officer to simply deny your license.

I would be grateful to hear experiences and advice on this issue.

Posted by

I'm in the process of waiting to see what they will say about my application. They sent me a medical questionnaire which I completed, and they then said it would take up to 12 weeks to consider the information. After thery heard back from my doctors they wrote again to say it could take another 12 weeks before they get back to me. That's where I am now.

I'm probably not typical, having survived a GBM4 for two years already and never having had a seizure. I'm trying not to get my hopes up too much because I'll be very disappointed if they refuse.


Posted by

Did your neurologist agree that you can drive? Did he sound like he would support you or was he indifferent?

I just talked to the secretary of a consultant neurologist and she said that the DVLA forms they receive are too strict, there is simply yes/no questions and no room for the consultant to describe the case.

The DVLA told me that they have medical teams on their payroll that review these applications and it is their judgement that counts.

I did explain to the DVLA lady that "epilepsy" in my case is "twingling sensation on the back of my arm" which obviously does not affect my driving, and she went away to check it, then she came back saying "oh we noticed you also have brain cancer so your application will go to the medical team" and to me this sounded like "you're screwed"...

I wonder if there is a way to fight or circumvent a negative decision.

Posted by

Yes, both my GP and my oncologist knew that I was applying for my licence and appeared supportive.

I don't know if there is an appeal procedure if you get a refusal.

Posted by
I have just had a look at the DVLA website and this is what is mentions about appealing their decision:

If your licence is taken away

You’ll be given a medical reason why, and be told when you can re-apply for your licence. You’ll also be sent a notice that explains your right to appeal against the decision.
Posted by


My partner had a fit nearly 12 months ago and not had one since but is on Epilepsy tabs now as they found he had a brain tumour which he had removed in Jan. He has had radiotherapy and now about to have his 3rd lot of chemo next week. The DVLA took his licence of him for two years from March just gone because thats when he finished his radiotherapy. They said its a year with a brain tumour but two years if its cancerous. My partner is only 41 and we have  a 12 and 6 yr old so its a nightmare and it really gets him down as he cant just go for a drive. Reading some posts I may see about appealing as he has had no more fits since last July. Hope this helps and would like to know how you get on. Tracey  

Posted by

I infer that DVLA considers surgery and radiotherapy as "aggressive" treatment and count 1 or 2 years from the end of the treatment. On top of that they consider epilepsy and will probably want the person to be epilepcy-free for at least one year.

When I called the DVLA they said 6 months past surgery as a minimum, so we will see.

It is crazy really, considering the amount of immigrants driving on licenses not worth 1/100 of the UK one, in terms of knowledge and skills, as well as older people who really have no spatial awareness or the reflexes to cope.

I am very sorry to hear about your husband and I too also think it is very hard on someone to lose the ability to drive, to be independent, it is as if the state wants you dead already.

Now for the good news. You can "drive" an electrically propelled tricycle as long as the power is less than 250W and the weight less than 60kgs I believe. I have not looked into this in a big way, but assuming you can hit 40mph you should be ok to go to town and do your shopping etc.

Posted by


I have just got off the telephone to the DVLA nd after counting to ten several times wondered if their telephone "helpline" is so abusive to everyone?

All I wanted to know was if any progress had been made on the return of my licence, I gave her all the information she wanted after being told that it could take "up to 12 weeks" to process my application in a mail status update. 14 weeks later I am told by a very patronising individual that the 12 weeks restarts every time the application shifts desks and there will be others in front of mine needing attention.

I spent the whole call wondering if she was going toput the phone down on me, continually told "I have explained this to you" then told that I can start driving on some clause or another but would need my doctor's approval. Isnt that what they are there for?

I was warned that the DVLA were bad, but was not prepared for this treatment!

be interesting to hear if anyone else has had this problem, didnt sound like just an off day for the helpline,


Posted by

Hello neil, you do not mention what it is you are suffering from? Your experiences with the DVLA are exactly the same as mine. If you would like to discuss this you can call me directly as I am in the process again now.

Posted by

I have had a grade 3 brain tumour removed!

Posted by

Here are the rules in summary. Many oncologists and neurologists are NOT aware of the DVLA rules, and when you talk to them they may dissuade you from applying. In that case you need to find another doctor.

In case of brain tumours and in order to drive:

1) one year past last invasive treatment, surgery and / or radiotherapy. I think chemotherapy does not count.

2) one year past any epileptic episode, ie being seizure-free for one year. It does not matter if the seizures have gone away due to medicines, surgery or whatever.

3) if seizures are partial local seizures then one year's worth of same kind of seizures (so that they have developed a clear pattern).

4) reference from your GP - I think he will be sent a form to fill in

5) reference from a consultant - he will also be sent a form to fill in

6) somewhere in all the references the doctors are going to write it must say that the tumour is stable, it has not grown, and you have not developed new symptoms. Any kind of new symptoms is an excuse for the DVLA to refuse.

The DVLA are renowned for being bastards. For that reason there are lawyers that specialise in dealing with the DVLA, called DVLA Lawyers. If you think you should be allowed to drive but are likely to be refused, do not apply, contact one of those lawyers, pay them and it is money well spent because they will take the uncertainty out of it. Also, you do not want to apply with a bad application and be refused and then have to get the lawyers in, this only wastes time and may also bias DVLA against you.

In practice I have thought about it and what really comes down to is not simply the DVLA but insurance. Supposing you drive and you kill someone. Are you confident that your insurance company will pick up the costs which can be many millions of pounds? As you know insurance companies try hard not to pay, this is their job. A person with brain cancer, epilepsy, mental and physiological defects of any kind who has just caused a major accident is very hard to pay up. Remember it is not whether you can successfully apply and get insurance for yourself to drive your car, but what happens when you kill someone. 

I am sorry to sound so blunt but these are the hard facts which are worth considering.

Posted by

It was the insurance issues that I was trying to pin the helpline down on, she was getting quite upset about me asking on this topic.

I have been without incident for 22 months now, having said that my doctor has been far from amazing throughout, my last scan was brought forward because I complained of a pain in my leg. This turned out to be sciatica but I left thinking I was not too well!

I did talk to my insurance company and was told after declaring my surgery that it was only restrictions and endorsements that counted, which I seem to remember being true and the duty to reveal the surgery. 

I will wait and see what arrives from the DVLA.

Posted by

Blunt is good these days, what reason did they give for not returning your licence? I was told that it would take up to 12 weeks to "consider", they seem to have changed their tune from just apply and you can have it back!

As you say the insurance part is a worry, even though I made sure to declare it to my insurance company. This is the bones of the mail I was sent after the rude phone call:

"I can confirm that the information received by us is still waiting for review. As soon as a decision is made, you will be notified of the outcome in writing. If we need to make further enquiries we will also write to you to let you know.


There is a provision in the law, under section 88 of the road traffic act, which could allow you to continue driving whilst your licence is being renewed, as long as you are able to satisfy all of the following criteria:


• The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is in receipt of a valid application, which is less than 1 year old

• You have held a licence previously

• You have the support of your General Practitioner (GP)/Consultant to continue driving

• You are not currently revoked/refused for medical reasons

• You are not currently disqualified by a court

• You drive under the conditions of the licence applied for such as those applicable to provisional licences


Please note: When driving outside the United Kingdom (UK), Section 88 may not be accepted. It is advisable to check with the relevant Licensing Authorities of the country you wish to visit before travelling.


Please accept my apologies for the length of time taken in dealing with your case."

I dont really see this is relevant as if the "renewal" of my licence is unsuccessful I will be left considerably out of pocket. Would rather have my licence back in their stated timelines!

Posted by

Again, I will be blunt...

When they deal with brain tumours they always add delays. Delays to receive application, delays in writing to the doctors, delays in processing the replies, large minimum periods past surgery/radiotherapy etc.

With that delaying tactic, they know that brain cancer always advances and that by the time you can re-apply for your license or by the time they are ready to let you have your license back , your cancer has caused more damage so you need more surgery, more treatments, more visits to hospitals etc. I mean how many brain cancer patients do you know that have spent 2 years without any treatment whatsoever and whose brain cancer has remained static. Probably not many.

So that is the game they are playing.

In my case they declined my application due to epilepsy. When I wrote back saying that my epilepsy is partial and does not affect my ability to drive/operate machines etc, they said I was right, but now they are declining the license because it is less than a year since surgery.

It's been a year since last surgery so now I am going to reapply but am not holding my breath to be honest.

Neurologists and oncologists are typically not very keen to vouch for their patients - I presume there can be legal implications for them. Every time I have spoken to any doctors about this, except my GP that is, they immediately went into defensive mode, "nothing I can do, these are the DVLA rules, I did not make the rules" etc. Not once have any doctors said "you are fit, you can drive, I will try to support your application as best as I can". Not once.

Posted by

I hope my oncologist will just be honest,  since my discharge I have been forced to fight. First to get diagnosed, then battling complications in hospital, forced out to a legal battle over child custody.  Battling with occupational health quacks to get back to work and employers who just want to be rid of me..................... now the stress of an employment tribunal and the DVLA!

Against all the odds I am 22 months post craniotomy and all my scans have been clear, out to 6 monthly scans which will see me in the MRI next Friday. I feel great, not like before they opened my sunroof but still exercising, went coasteering for my daughters birthday and have swum and snorkeled extensively around my now storm battered home beaches, been getting advice on going back to SCUBA which is a passion of mine though apparently hyperbaric oxygen can trigger seisures. Fancy doing some running too.

I will be talking to my GP on Monday to see where she stands on the issues the DVLA have raised, in the mean time I will keep fighting! Driving is one of the milestones back to normality.