TIA and Minor Stroke

Driving after a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or minor stroke

The UK DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) do not allow you to drive for at least a month after a stroke or TIA. After the first month, if the doctor agrees that you are fit to drive, you can do so. There is no need to notify DVLA unless you still have any remaining symptoms 1 month after the episode. If, after the month, the doctor or you feel that you are not fit enough to drive you have to tell the DVLA and your insurance company (see ‘Driving and transport’ on our stroke website or the DVLA website for more information).

However, the type of advice or guidance given to the people we talked to varied enormously and a few people were unsure about whether or not to notify DVLA, and when they could return to driving.
Most of the people we interviewed were told by their GP or consultant to stop driving immediately after their TIA and not to drive for between a month and six weeks. In a few cases the GP did not say anything about this and so people drove to their hospital appointment unaware they should not do this (see John below). For people like Angus (below) who relied on driving for work, having to stop could mean a loss of income (see ‘Work’).
A few people were wrongly advised to notify the DVLA and surrender their licence, or did this on their own initiative. Dennis later regretted that he had handed in his licence.
However, the majority were not told that they needed to do anything official and kept hold of their licence, resuming driving when they felt fit enough to do so. For some, this was determined by re-visiting the GP and confirming that all was now well enough to start driving again, but others said they made the decision for themselves at a point at which they felt they were safe to drive again.
Once it was made clear to people that driving was out of bounds for a period of time nearly everyone we spoke to adhered to the advice and stopped driving, although some people said that they actually felt well enough to drive before the month was up or felt tempted to take short trips to the shops.
Being unable to drive was a difficult experience for some people. Some said that they felt they felt they had lost their independence because they could now no longer go out in the car without thinking and it made them realise how much we take driving for granted. It could also be difficult to have to rely on friends and family for lifts to do the usual everyday things that they needed to do, especially those who lived in rural areas. Some people said they found it difficult to have to rely on public transport because it was less convenient.
Several people had been actually driving when they had their TIA, but because of the difficulties in recognising symptoms or realising what was happening (see ‘Symptoms’ and ‘Delay in seeking help’) they had carried on driving.
One person that we interviewed has had to stop driving permanently because of residual effects on his eyesight. Geoff was told that unless his vision improved he would no longer be allowed to drive which he found very upsetting.
Another person who still experiences some residual symptoms after experiencing two TIAs says that although he is still allowed to drive at the moment, he can foresee a time when he may have to give it up.

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Last reviewed June 2017.
Last updated June 2017.


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