After a stroke, you may be eager to get back in the driver's seat. However, strokes and TIAs (transient ischaemic strokes) 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.
You can start driving again when it’s safe and you follow the right procedures. Your stroke team can assess the skills you need for driving, and they can also advise if it’s safe 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 which 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).
Click on one of the questions below to view more info.
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 which may affect you, if you have epilepsy or needed 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’re worried about your eyesight, get an assessment for an eye specialist. Other effects of stroke which can make driving difficult include: problems with memory and thinking, or weakness in your arms or legs.
What if I can’t drive?
There are schemes that can make travelling easier for you if you’re not able to drive. In some areas, local councils provide community transport schemes for people who have disabilities and are unable to use public transport.
If you can travel by train, you may wish to buy a Disabled Person’s Railcard. This entitles you to a third off the cost of most rail fares in England, Scotland and Wales.
If you can travel by bus, you may be entitled to a free bus pass if you meet certain criteria, for example if you are blind or partially sighted, or have difficulty walking.
If you are unable to access public transport because of your disability, the Access to Work scheme may be able to help you with the cost of getting to and from work.
Returning to driving
The decision to return to driving (if you are able to) is a personal one.
Some people prefer to build up their confidence in their own home and around their local community first. For others, it is an urgent goal.
Before you start driving again, refresher lessons with a qualified driving instructor can be very helpful.
Even if you still have physical disabilities, it may still be possible for you to drive. There are various vehicle adaptations and motoring accessories which 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 and have problems using public transport.