driving and getting about
Getting around and being independent is an important part of growing up. Find out about epilepsy and driving, transport and travelling.
Learning to drive
If you have had no seizures for at least one year, you can learn to drive a car or motorbike at 17. When you apply for your provisional driving licence, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) will need to know about your epilepsy, even if you are not currently having seizures.
The DVLA will ask you to fill in some forms, and they may also contact your doctor to ask about your epilepsy before they send you your licence.
If you have a driving licence and have a seizure
If you have a seizure, by law you must stop driving, and tell the DVLA.
This means all types of seizures, including those where you are conscious. This is the case whether you are on anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) or not. The DVLA will ask you to return your licence to them.
This can be a tough thing to face, especially if it affects your freedom and independence. When you can apply to get your new licence depends on the number and type of seizures that you have. Giving up your licence voluntarily can make it quicker for the DVLA to give you a new one later.
If you have a seizure in your sleep
If you have a seizure which starts when you’re asleep (an 'asleep' seizure) you must stop driving, as above. But, if in the next year, you only have seizures while you’re asleep, then you can apply for a new licence, even though you are still having seizures while asleep. This is the case whether you are on AEDs or not.
If you have ever had a seizure which started while you were awake, but are now having seizures while asleep, you may be able to apply for a new Group 1 licence after three years of having only asleep seizures. For more information see our driving regulations guide.
Public transport and help with travel costs
If you do not drive because of your epilepsy you may be able to apply for help with travel costs, including free bus travel and reduced fares on trains using a Disabled Person’s Railcard. Visit GOV.UK for more information.
Having epilepsy does not usually stop people travelling by air. However long journeys, 'jet lag' or a change in sleeping pattern can trigger seizures for some people.You might want to talk to your GP or specialist about when to take medication if you are planning long distance travel.
It is a good idea to take enough medication for the whole trip, as some drugs may not be available or may have a different name in other countries. Your GP or the drug company that makes your medication may be able to tell you more about this. It can be helpful to take a copy of your prescription or a letter from your GP or specialist explaining about your epilepsy and the medication you take.
It is recommended that you keep all your medication (in its original containers) in your hand luggage. Airport security regulations allow you to carry medication liquids up to 100ml in your hand luggage.
If your liquid medication is in a container larger than 100ml you will need to have a letter from your GP or specialist explaining about your epilepsy and the medication you take and a copy of your prescription. Airport security staff may open the container to screen the liquids at the security point.
Taken from our Your epilepsy - now and next leaflet. Order this leaflet from our online shop as part of our 'first five free' offer.
This information was reviewed by Professor Matthias Koepp, Professor of Neurology, University College London and Epilepsy Society. Epilepsy Society is also grateful to the young people who helped develop this information.