Press release: 360,000 UK drivers have had their licences taken away for medical reasons

  • Alex Buttle
  • 25th September 2019
  • In 2019 so far, more than 42,000 people have had their driving licences medically revoked
  • Over 7,000 drivers had their licences revoked because of seizures or blackouts
  • Alcohol (5,450) is the most common reason for a licence to be medically revoked
  • Almost 1,000 domestic vehicle drivers have had licences revoked for sleep conditions, including narcolepsy
  • In the past 18 months, almost 1,000 bus or lorry drivers had their licences revoked due to blackouts or a sleep-related condition

More than 360,000 UK drivers (363,280) have had their driving licences revoked for medical reasons in the past five years, according to DVLA data analysed by Motorway.

Numbers peaked in 2018, with 73,724 driving licences medically revoked. Over 300,000 motorcycle and car drivers (307,414) have had their licences revoked on medical grounds since the start of 2014, while 55,866 lorry or bus drivers have had licences cancelled.

So far this year, more than 40,000 UK drivers (42,467) have had their driving licences revoked on medical grounds.

Accidents involving drivers with medical conditions has risen in recent years leading to a high number of DVLA revocations

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request made to the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) in August 2019 by Motorway.co.uk, reveals that 36,310 car or motorcycle licences (Group 1) and 6,157 lorry or bus licences (Group 2) have been medically revoked in 2019 to date.

Of these, almost two-thirds (65%) of drivers were 50 years old or over. More than 800 teenage drivers (829) have had their licences medically revoked.

Alcohol (5,450) is the most common reason for the DVLA to medically revoke a driving licence. More than 7,000 drivers (7,159) have had their driving licences cancelled this year for seizures or blackouts.

Just under 3,000 motorcycle or car drivers (2,865) have had their licences revoked in the past 18 months for sleep related conditions, including narcolepsy.

And worryingly, DVLA figures on larger vehicles reveal that almost 1,000 bus or lorry drivers (920) have had their licences revoked over the past 18 months because of blackouts or a sleep condition.

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

The rules are different if a driver voluntarily surrenders their licence. Under these circumstances, you can drive while your licence is being renewed if; you have the support of your doctor, a valid licence, you only drive under the conditions of the previous licence, you’re not disqualified, your last licence wasn’t revoked and your application is less than 12 months old.

The following table shows the most common reasons why the DVLA revoked a driving licence on medical grounds (2019):

Medical condition Number of licences revoked % of all medical licence revocations
Alcohol 5,450 15.0%
Seizures 5,417 14.9%
Eyesight 4,534 12.5%
Memory problems 4,175 11.5%
Mental health 3,268 9.0%
Neurological 3,041 8.4%
Cardiac 2,228 6.1%
Drugs 1,770 4.9%
Blackouts 1,742 4.8%
Diabetes 1,176 3.2%

The following table shows the number of driving licences medically revoked in the past five years (2014 to 2019 to date):

Year Number of licences medically revoked (Group 1 & 2)
2014 48,941
2015 55,753
2016 72,019
2017 70,376
2018 73,724
2019  (to date) 42,467

Alex Buttle, director of Motorway comments:

“These figures make for quite frightening reading, but they could be just the tip of the iceberg. How many people are driving with a medical condition and haven’t informed the authorities?

You can be fined up to £1,000 if you don’t tell the DVLA about a medical condition that affects your driving, but is that really a strong enough deterrent?

“With so many of us reliant on our cars for work and pleasure, there will be drivers on the road who think it’s worth the risk to keep quiet because handing in their driving licence could mean losing their mobility, their job and not seeing their family and friends.”