One of the most troubling things for a motorist dependent upon their licence, is the prospect of losing their ability to drive. When you consider the reasons why a motorist may lose their licence, most people will automatically assume disqualification, and whilst that is the most common instance, revocation is also a possibility. Medical conditions are but one reason why the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) may revoke a licence, though.
The impact of medical conditions
When a motorist contacts us after their licence has been revoked on medical grounds, it is often because they feel quite aggrieved. It is difficult for many of us to admit that we may not be ìfitî for a particular activity ñ especially when it may be age-related ñ and so many motorists still feel perfectly capable and well enough to drive, despite certain conditions. Motorists are often confused as to the criteria implemented by the DVSA when considering revocation and hopefully these words will provide some valuable guidance and clarity.
The act of driving involves a rather complex and rapidly repeating cycle that demands the driver to have the ability to interact simultaneously with both their vehicle and their environment. Below is an explanation of exactly what we, or our body does, in order to drive, and it is more complex than many will imagine.
Our auditory and visual sensors (eyes and ears) take in the environment, and the information is acted upon by many cognitive processes within our brain. Short and long-term memory, in addition to our judgement, all come into play, and how our mind processes the environment ñ particularly potential hazards ñ is directly linked to our standard of driving and the decisions we make whilst on the road.
These decisions are enacted by our musculoskeletal system, which acts on the controls of the vehicle and its relation to the road and other users. The whole process is co-ordinated by complex interactions involving behaviour, strategic and tactical abilities and personality.
When a motorist suffers with illness or injury, adaptive strategies are essential to maintaining a standard of safe driving. To drive safely, there are a number of elements required which include (but are not limited to);
- Visuospatial perception
- Attention and concentration
- Insight and understanding
- Adaptive strategies
- Judgement and reaction time
- Planning and organisation
- Ability to self-monitor
- Muscle power and control
It is easy to forget that all of these elements contribute to the ability to drive safely, as driving becomes almost second nature to most of us. Given these requirements, however, it follows that many of our bodily systems need to be functional for safe driving, and injury or disease may affect any one or more of these abilities.
The driversí medical section within the DVSA deals with all aspects of driver licensing when there are medical conditions that impact, or potentially impact, the safe control of a vehicle. It is intended to assist doctors and other healthcare professionals in advising their patients:
ï whether or not the DVSA requires notification of a medical condition
ï what the licensing outcome from the DVSAís medical enquiries is likely to be
If there is any condition that could affect the ability to drive safely, then the DVSA can revoke a driving licence. Driving privileges can be restored if an independent doctor assesses the condition, and their findings are compelling enough to assure the DVSA that the person is fit to drive.
What can be done?
Challenging a revocation on medical grounds can often be a difficult process. The DVSA will need to have a satisfactory medical opinion that whatever the condition is, it does not affect the ability to drive safely.
In some instances, the DVSA will revoke the licence based on a ìtip offî or a report from a third party, and then the person will be required to undergo a medical assessment before the licence can be reinstated.
When it comes to licence revocation, the DVSA are very much the authority and the person must follow the DVSA procedures before any other challenge is made. If the challenge on revocation is unsuccessful, then there is the option to request that the magistratesí court hear the case and make a decision on the ability to drive safely.
It must be remembered that the magistrates will only decide against the DVSA if they have a compelling reason to do so, and this would need to be strong medical evidence.
Motoring Defence Solicitors are road traffic lawyers specialising in drink and drug driving offences. Based out of their central London offices, they provide free advice on a range of offences to motorists nationwide. You can contact Neil Sargeant for free on 0800 433 2880 or visit the website at www.drinkdrugdriving.co.uk.