Driving and Disability

Driving and disability

Having a medical condition or disability does not necessarily mean you cannot or will not be allowed to drive. Whether you are a new or an experienced driver, you must let the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) know about any medical condition or disability that may affect your driving.

Find out how to apply for a dropped kerb locally

A dropped kerb may make it easier to get from your car to your house, if you have to park on the road. The following service will let you enter details of where you live and then take you to your local council website where you can find out how to apply to have a dropped kerb put in outside your home.
Please note that this service is only available for councils in England.

Medical conditions, disabilities and driving

You must tell the DVLA if you have, or have ever had, a medical condition or an impairment that may affect your driving.
If you hold a current driving licence and have a ‘notifiable’ medical condition or disability, you must tell the DVLA right away. You should not wait until your licence is due for renewal.
You must also tell the DVLA if your medical condition or disability has become worse since your licence was issued or if you develop a new medical condition or disability.
Sometimes the best option can be to surrender your license, and reapply for its restoration at a later date.
‘Notifiable’ medical conditions and disabilities include epilepsy, strokes and other neurological conditions, mental health problems, physical disabilities and visual impairments. There is information about how to tell the DVLA in the general motoring section of Directgov.
The research charity Ricability publishes booklets aimed at motorists with particular needs, including motoring after amputation, receiving a brain injury or having a stroke, and motoring with arthritis, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis or restricted growth.

New drivers and the provisional driving licence

Before you can learn to drive a car, moped or motorcycle, you must apply for a provisional driving licence. If you have a notifiable medical condition or disability you must declare it on the application form.
The DVLA aims to deliver your provisional driving licence to you within three weeks of receiving your application. It might take longer if they have to check on your health or personal details.

Applying for a provisional driving licence (general motoring section)

Learning to drive

The usual minimum age for driving cars is 17, but if you receive the higher rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance, you can drive at 16.

Driving lessons and specialist driving instructors

All new drivers should have professional driving lessons and disabled learner drivers may want to look for instructors who have specialist knowledge of their needs.
Look for instructors who have taken a special course – often at Banstead Mobility Centre or the Transport Research Laboratory.
Experienced instructors can teach you more than how to drive, including:

  • how to get in and out of the car more easily
  • how to get your wheelchair in and out of the car (if applicable)
  • how to operate any adapted controls

Increasingly, instructors and driving schools have simple hand controls fitted to one or more of their fleet and will offer specialist tuition.
If you are aged between 16 and 24, Motability may be able to offer financial support towards the cost of driving lessons.

Taking your driving tests

You should book your theory test when you have a thorough knowledge of the Highway Code and practical in car hazard awareness. Only book your practical test once you can drive unprompted.
You must pass the theory test before you can book the practical test. If you don’t pass a practical test within two years of taking the theory test, you’ll have to take the theory test again.

The theory test

The theory test has two parts, a 50-question multiple choice section and a hazard perception skills section. You need to pass both parts of the theory test in the same sitting to obtain your theory test pass certificate.
Theory tests are usually held at test centres, which are generally wheelchair accessible and offer specialist facilities for disabled people. However, arrangements can be made for you to take the test at home or at a different centre if your local centre is not accessible to you.
The theory test system has been designed to be accessible and is available in spoken as well as written format. Candidates with hearing difficulties can watch a video of the test in British Sign Language. The test conditions can also be adapted if you have light-sensitive epilepsy. You can ask for extra time for the multiple-choice element of the theory test, but will need to provide supporting evidence before this can be agreed.
It’s very important to mention any special requirements you may have when you book your test with the Driving Standards Agency (DSA).
Please let the DSA know if you:

  • need access for a wheelchair
  • are deaf or have other hearing difficulties
  • are dyslexic or have reading difficulties
  • do not read or understand English

The practical test

You will take the same driving test as every other candidate, regardless of your impairment or condition.
When you book your test, let the DSA know if you:

  • are deaf or have severe hearing difficulties
  • are in any way restricted in your movements
  • have any physical disability

Disabled drivers may be allowed extra time for their test. This is to allow you to explain to your examiner the nature and function of any adaptations you use, and to allow you extra time to get in and out of the car.
Driving examiners are specially trained to understand any special needs that may arise from disabilities.

How to book your theory or practical test

You can book your theory or practical driving test online or over the phone. Lines are open from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm seven days a week except on Bank Holidays.
Theory and practical test booking line –  0300 200 1122
Minicom theory test booking line – 0300 200 1166
Minicom practical test booking line – 0300 200 1144