After a stroke, you may be eager to get back in the driver's seat. However, strokes and TIAs can affect your ability to drive and there are procedures in place that you should follow if you want to drive again.
The driving rules
After a stroke or a TIA you must stop driving immediately, but for many people this is temporary.
It is possible to return to driving as long as it’s safe to do so and you follow the right procedures. Your stroke team may be involved in assessing the skills you need for driving. They can also advise whether it is safe it is for you to return to driving.
It is your responsibility to tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (known as the DVLA) of any medical condition that may affect your ability to drive safely. If you live in Northern Ireland you need to inform the Driver and Vehicle Agency (known as the DVA).
When can I drive after a stroke or TIA?
If you have a licence to drive a car or motorcycle (Group 1 licence) you are not allowed to drive for at least one month after a stroke or a single TIA.
After a month you may start driving again if your doctor is happy with your recovery. The doctor will need to see that there are no remaining neurological symptoms, in particular any visual or cognitive difficulties. If you are left with some limb weakness only, you may still be allowed to continue driving.
If you have a number of TIAs over a short period of time you will need to wait until you have not had any TIAs for three months before returning to driving. You will also need to notify the DVLA or DVA.
There are other rules around driving that may affect you if you have epilepsy or have had an operation called a carotid endarterectomy. Take a look at our guide to Driving after stroke to find out more.
Do I need to notify the DVLA or DVA?
During the first month after a stroke or a single TIA you do not have to notify the DVLA or DVA, even though you are not allowed to drive.
You must notify the DVLA or DVA as soon as possible if any of the following apply:
- you have experienced multiple TIAs over a short period of time
- your condition worsens at any time
- you have experienced any form of epileptic seizure, other than ones within the first 24 hours following your stroke
- your stroke treatment included brain surgery
- you have experienced more than one stroke in the past three months
- your doctor expresses concern about your fitness to drive
- you are a Group 2 driver (lorry and bus).
One month after your stroke you will need to notify the DVLA or DVA if you have any ongoing effects from your stroke. If you are concerned about your vision, you need to have an assessment with an eye specialist. Other effects of stroke that can make driving difficult include problems with memory and thinking or weakness in your arms or legs.
Returning to driving
Even if you still have physical disabilities, it may still be possible for you to drive. There are various vehicle adaptations and motoring accessories that can make driving possible and more comfortable. Specialist mobility centres can carry out assessments and provide advice about making adaptations to your vehicle, which can enable you to return to driving.
The Blue Badge scheme provides parking concessions for people with severely restricted mobility who have problems using public transport.