The DVLA guidelines on driving and sleep apnoea are still causing confusion, and some drivers are still losing their licences unnecessarily. The Detailed DVLA Guidance for Drivers is a comprehensive summary of the current rules as SATA understands them and it provides detailed guidance on how to fill in the forms, and how to complain if you have lost your licence. We recognise that the document is not an easy read however, so the following is a “quick start” guide.
There are two Golden Rules;
- You alone are responsible for deciding whether you are fit to drive. It doesn’t matter whether you suspect you may have sleep apnoea, were up all night with a new baby, or watching election results. If you are likely to be sleepy to the point where your driving could be impaired, you must not drive.
If you do, you are breaking the law, and may invalidate your insurance.
- If your GP, your consultant, or any other medical professional tells you that you must not drive, you must not do so.
If you are experiencing some sleepiness during waking hours, go to your GP, preferably with a completed Epworth score (click on Epworth Sleepiness Scale for SATA), and ask for a referral to a sleep clinic. If the sleep clinic diagnoses Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) but says that any sleepiness during waking hours is not excessive you can continue to drive and do not need to notify the DVLA. SATA does however suggest that if the sleepiness gets any worse you go back to your GP.
If the Sleep Clinic diagnoses moderate or severe OSA with excessive sleepiness, you must continue not to drive until your sleep clinic is satisfied that your CPAP or other treatment, has your sleepiness under control. You then need to notify the DVLA. The Detailed DVLA Guidance for Drivers tells you when to notify DVLA, and how to fill in the DVLA forms.
When you notify the DVLA we continue to advise that you do so in writing, rather than by telephone or e-mail.
If you have already had your driving license revoked by the DVLA, and you think this was because of a mistake on their part, or because you, your GP or your consultant or sleep clinic gave DVLA wrong advice, the detailed guidance tells you what to do, and makes it clear that it may be necessary to take the matter up with your MP.
© Sleep Apnoea Trust Jan 2019
The detailed guidance is available as a pdf SATA Patient Information Sheet from our leaflet resource, just click this link SATA Detailed DVLA Guidance for UK Drivers with Sleep Apnoea – Jan 2019
Please note that the information in this document is subject to change and revision, as the DVLA is still amending and updating its own information.