DVLA action sees 650,000 Britons stripped of driving licences amid serious medical concerns

Elderly driver

Drivers risk £1,000 fines if they fail to disclose a medical condition

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Hemma Visavadia

By Hemma Visavadia


Published: 18/06/2024

- 16:39

Medical tests determine if drivers are fit enough for UK roads

More than half a million drivers have had their licences taken away by the DVLA for medical reasons, with many elderly motorists potentially more at risk than other drivers.

A Freedom of Information request found that 646,972 drivers have had their driving licences revoked for medical reasons over the last decade.


The data revealed that more than 500,000 motorcycle and car owners and 95,131 lorry or bus motorists have had their licences removed due to having a medical condition that could impact their ability to drive.

Nearly 900,000 medical licencing decisions were made by the DVLA last year to determine whether drivers were fit for UK roads.

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The DVLA highlighted alcohol dependency, epilepsy and dementia as the main reasons for licence failures

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Out of those decisions, more than 23,000 UK drivers have already lost their licences due to medical conditions in 2024 alone.

Alcohol dependency, epilepsy and dementia were flagged as the most common reasons for the DVLA to medically revoke a licence, with almost 20,000 (18,498) cancelled since the start of 2023 - potentially impacting elderly drivers the most.

John Wilmot, CEO of LeaseLoco, said: “Since the start of 2014, more than 650,000 drivers have had their licences revoked due to medical reasons. But this could be just the tip of the iceberg. How many people are driving with medical conditions they haven't reported?”

Drivers can be fined up to £1,000 if they fail todisclose a medical condition that affects their ability to get behind the wheel, including visual defects.

Medical decisions are conducted to assess a driver's fitness and include a questionnaire, a CDT blood test, and any other tests which may be relevant such as an eye and hearing examination.

The DVLA requires drivers with certain conditions to disclose them or they could face hefty penalties. Motorists can check their medical conditions via the DVLA website to find out the specific requirements.

The FOI detailed how men are more likely to have had their driving licences revoked on medical grounds since 2023.

The data found that 65,000 male drivers have had their licences revoked compared to just under 27,000 female road users.

If a driver has their licence taken away for medical grounds, they can reapply for their licence once their doctor says they meet the medical standards for driving.

The driving agency recorded 887,000 medical licensing decisions between 2022 and 2023, an increase of 130,000 from 2019 to 2020.

However, under Rule 88 of The Road Traffic Act 1988, motorists may be allowed to continue driving without holding a current driving licence.

The loophole rule can be used when a driver has applied to the DVLA to renew their licence which has expired or if they are in the process of an application.

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DVLA made 887,000 medical licensing decisions between 2022 and 2023

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But to be eligible, drivers must meet the medical standards of fitness to drive, the DVLA explained.

Wilmot added: “With so many of us relying on our cars for work and leisure, some drivers may think it's worth the risk to stay silent.

“For them, surrendering their licence could mean losing their mobility, their job, and the ability to visit family and friends."

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