Epilepsy Awareness Program - Epilepsy and Driving
The laws in many countries all over the world prevent people with active seizures from obtaining driving license. The golden rule here for people who drive and having a seizure is that they have to stop driving. This is true for all types of seizures whether you have had a diagnosis of epilepsy or not.
A person with a seizure disorder that causes lapses in consciousness may be putting the public at risk if they are driving. Not only can a seizure itself cause an accident, but anticonvulsants often have side effects that include drowsiness.
People with epilepsy are more likely to be involved in a traffic accident than people who do not have the condition, although reports range from minimally more likely up to seven times more likely.
It is for this reason that most people diagnosed with epilepsy are prohibited or restricted by their local laws from operating vehicles. However, most places have exceptions built into their laws for those who can prove that they have stabilized their condition.
In general, the risk of having a seizure-related traffic accident is greatly reduced in people who have been seizure-free for 12 months. Driving may be safe for some people with epilepsy after a shorter seizure-free period, depending on individual circumstances. People who always have an aura before a seizure begins are also at reduced risk; the aura acts as a warning, which may give a driver time to pull over before the seizure begins. Not taking antiepileptic medication as prescribed (missing a dose, for instance) increases the risk of having an accident, so it is especially important for people with epilepsy who choose to drive to take their medication correctly and on the proper schedule.
Driving is a privilege that carries serious responsibility with it. You can help protect yourself and others as follows:
• If your doctor changes your medicine, don't drive until you know how the change is going to affect you.
• If you have a seizure, don't drive yourself to the doctor's office afterwards. If you need medical attention, call a friend or take other transportation.
• Don't drive if your seizure control isn't good enough to get a license, or if you start having seizures again after getting a license.
Some countries prohibit people who have ever had a seizure from driving. In these countries, it is common for people with epilepsy to hide their condition from authorities in order to not be denied a driver's license. Other places allow those who have had seizures to drive after a seizure-free period, which ranges from months to years.
It is extremely a person’s responsibility to inform the local authorities about his/her medical condition before applying and obtaining a drivers license. For more details about law and applicability to drive and obtaining a driving license, please contact your local authorities.