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What about driving with FM

Medication, Illness and Driving

Fibromyalgia and it's related illnesses, along with the side effects of any medication you may be on may affect your ability to drive.

You should always read any leaflets which come with your medication to see how it may affect you.

If you think your ability to drive may be affected, if you find yourself losing concentration, if your physical abilities are impaired or your reflexes slowed then you should first go to your GP for advice.  “The medical standards of fitness to drive are available to all medical practitioners and if your doctor, in accordance with these standards, has advised you that you should not drive you may wish to surrender your licence, and reapply for its restoration at a later date.

It may be a good idea to ask your GP if he would have any concerns about your fitness to drive at your next appointment and that puts your mind at ease.

You should then inform the DVLA: see here

If you already have a driving licence and need to tell the DVLA of a medical condition or disability, you must tell them right away and not wait until your licence is due for renewal.

The following are FM related conditions for which you can download questionnaires from the DVLA site here: see here

  • Serious memory problems or episodes of confusion.
  • Fits or blackouts.
  • Severe and recurrent disabling giddiness.
  • Sleep disorders which cause excessive daytime or awake time sleepiness.
  • Any other condition which causes excessive daytime or awake time sleepiness.
  • Any visual condition which affects both eyes (not including short or long sight or colour blindness).
  • Dependence on or misuse of drugs in the past three years.

What happens after you have told the DVLA.

The medical questionnaire that you fill out will enable you to give your consent for the DVLA medical advisor to request medical information from your doctor if necessary.
If possible a decision will be made on the information you provide, if not the medical advisor may:

  • Contact your GP or consultant.
  • Arrange for you to be examined by a locally appointed medical officer or local consultant or specialist.
  • Ask you to undergo a driving assessment, eyesight test or driving test.

In 88% of cases enquires will be completed within 15 working days. If further enquires need to be made then 85% of these cases will be decided on within 90 working days.

Decisions which can be made regarding your licence

  • You may be able to keep your license or be issued a new one if you are reapplying.
  • You may be issued a licence for a period of 1,2 or 3 years if the medical advisor feels a further review of your condition is necessary in the future.
  • You may be issued a licence which indicates that special controls need to be fitted to the vehicle you drive.
  • Your licence may be revoked or your application refused.

If your licence is revoked or refused you will be given a medical explanation of why the decision was made and, where possible, you will be advised of when you can reapply. You will also be sent notice of your right to appeal the decision to a Magistrates Court in England and Wales or a Sheriff Court in Scotland.

How to surrender your driving licence.

If you have been told by your GP not to drive you can surrender your licence to the DVLA which removes the need for them to make formal medical enquiries into your fitness to drive. You can download a “Declaration of voluntary surrender”
see here

If at a later date you wish to reapply for your licence medical enquiries will be made. However, while these enquiries are ongoing, the law provides cover to drive under Section 88 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

Informing your insurers.

Any changes about which you have informed the DVLA should also be reported to your insurers. Your policy may be deemed invalid if you do not tell them of a change and you would not be covered in case of an accident.

Can I drive if I'm taking prescribed medication?

In 2012, government announced a new offence in regard to driving with a specific controlled drug in the body above that drug’s accepted limit. But, it depends what effect the medication has on your ability to drive. It is illegal to drive or attempt to drive if your ability to do so is impaired by drugs, including prescribed medication. You should ask the doctor who prescribed your medication whether it is likely to affect your ability to drive. If you are taking your medicine as directed by your doctor and your driving is not impaired then you are not breaking the law. Check the leaflet that comes with your medicine for information on how it might affect your driving. You may wish to avoid driving while taking this medicine until you know how it affects you.

It is also an offence to drive, attempt to drive, or to be in charge of a motor vehicle with a specified controlled drug in the body above a certain limit. Some of the drugs affected by this offence are prescribed for fibromyalgia. This list below includes 'illegal' and prescription drugs from the Goverments drug driving website:

‘Illegal’ drugs (‘accidental exposure’
– zero tolerance approach)
Medicinal’ drugs
(risk based approach)
Separate approach
(to balance its risk)
  • benzoylecgonine
  • cocaine
  • cannabis
  • ketamine
  • lysergic acid diethylamide
  • methylamphetamine
  • MDMA
  • heroin
  • clonazepam
  • diazepam
  • flunitrazepam
  • lorazepam
  • methadone
  • morphine
  • oxazepam
  • temazepam
  • amphetamine

How this law might affect you

The police have powers to test and arrest drivers who are suspected of driving having taken any of these drugs in excess of the specified levels. You will only commit the offence if, when you drive, the amount of the drug in your blood exceeds a certain limit. The Department of Transport has published guidance for healthcare professionals which emphasises that a person who is prescribed any of the above listed drugs is unlikely to be in breach of the new law as the specified dosage is higher than that which is usually prescribed.

Medical defence
Even if the amount of the drug in your blood does exceed the specified limit, you will be able to raise a medical defence to the new offence as long as:

• you are taking your medication in accordance with instructions given by the doctor who prescribed it and/or the information in the leaflet accompanying the medication
• you have not been told that you mustn't drive whilst taking the medication, and
• your driving is not impaired.

The guidance suggests that, if you are taking any of the above prescribed drugs, you might want to carry evidence that it is prescription medication with you while driving so that you can show this to the police if stopped – for example, a copy of your prescription or the medicine packet. If you are prescribed one of the drugs affected by this law, you should ask your doctor whether it will be safe for you to drive. For those that are particpating in clinical trials such as ProjectTwenty21 with Cannabis we would suggest that you have documentation with you that shows you are enrolled in the trial and under their care.

Read more about the offence on the gov.uk website.


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