Driving and Dementia

As dementia is a progressive condition, early symptoms do not call for an immediate driving ban. However, a licence holder must inform their licensing company of their dementia diagnosis straightaway. If you do not do this, you could be fined up to £1000.  This should be explained to you by your doctor, when receiving the dementia diagnosis. They will assist you in informing the DVLA and provide them with all the relevant information. Drivers with dementia must also tell their car insurance provider straightaway, otherwise your policy may be invalid.

You can inform the DVLA of your medical diagnosis by filling out a CG1, courtesy of GOV.UK. Once this is complete, the DVLA may contact your doctor, arrange for an examination, or assess your driving. After consulting your doctor, the DVLA may decide to either renew your licence, revoke it straight away, ask for more information, or ask you to take an on-road driving assessment. If you are allowed to continue driving, your licence will, most likely, only be valid for 1-3 years, as dementia is a progressive condition and will worsen over time.

One could be deemed unsafe to drive if they often get lost, passengers worry about their ability to drive, they ignore parts of the highway code, or if they have been getting into accidents (minor or not). It is important to remember that one in three people with dementia still drive.

If you, or someone you know, has been deemed unable to continue driving, this can be a very stressful and difficult time. It may be seen as a symbolic loss of independence, or an insult to one’s ability. For someone with dementia, it may be difficult to adapt- for example, as you can imagine, it may be confusing to someone that, after 50 years of driving, is having their licence revoked; especially if they themselves think that they are more than capable. How will they continue to take their partner out for dinner every week? How will they get to the doctor? How will they visit their grandchildren? These are all common concerns of someone who must stop driving because of their dementia.

If you are unsure of how to help someone with dementia after they have received a driving ban, you can try to point out the positives – such as no more fuel costs, the chance to meet more people and see more places while on public transport, and no more inevitable stress on the road. If someone is finding it particularly hard to cope with a driving ban (it is common for people with dementia to continue attempting to drive, or to become frustrated when told that they can no longer do so), it may be a good idea to either sell or park the car out of view. We also advise that you take your loved one with dementia on frequent trips in the car if they feel that they are missing out. Perhaps you can go shopping together once a week or accompany them to visit family.

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