Driving and narcolepsy
Members who check the narcolepsy connections website will know that we have had some discussions on the DVLA. As you would expect the charity believes that all people with narcolepsy who drive should inform the DVLA. It’s illegal not to do so, it would invalidate your insurance policy and if you don’t then at some stage either your GP or Consultant will be obliged to. It’s far better for you to let them know rather than a third party.
In general most of the posters on the website agreed with this, however a few were concerned about the fact that they had been driving for years without informing the DVLA. If the informed them now, would they face prosecution for not doing it years ago. We thought this was an interesting point and as a charity we started a dialogue with the DVLA. Our suggestion was an amnesty for a period of time, to allow all those who have been driving the ability to register with DVLA without fear of conviction. While we thought it was a good idea the DVLA didn’t but they did agree the following statement which was sent in a letter earlier this month. We hope this will make it easier for those people with narcolepsy who have not registered the fact, to now do so.
The DVLA write:
A driver who fails to inform DVLA, or knowingly makes a false declaration when applying for a driving licence, and subsequently continues to drive whilst medically unfit to do so is guilty of an offence under the Road Traffic Act 1988. A driver might also be subject to a separate prosecution for a road traffic offence should they be involved in an accident where their medical condition was found to be a contributory factor. Decisions about whether such a prosecution would be appropriate would be a matter for the police and Crown Prosecution Service but consideration might be given by them as to whether the Agency had been informed of any relevant medical condition. Failure to inform the Agency would also be likely to invalidate a driver’s car insurance policy.
In the circumstances, I am afraid it is not possible to offer the “amnesty” that you suggest for those whom, to date, have not informed the Agency.
We do, though, support drivers who inform the Agency in the interests of road safety and to ensure they continue to drive within the law and their car insurance policy remains valid. I hope it will reassure your members to know that it is not DVLA’s practice to routinely follow legal action against drivers who have delayed notifying but that does not prejudice the Agency’s position to pursue situations where considered appropriate.
What does that mean? Well we see it as very positive. What we think they are saying is register with us as soon as possible and unless you have been already been involved in an accident we will probably not take it any further.
In an average year the DVLA deals with about 1,000,000 offences, most for “vehicle excise duty evasion” – someone who hasn’t paid for the car licence. Before the new Narcolepsy UK website went live you could argue that you were not fully aware of the need to register; especially if your GP or Consultant didn’t mention the fact. However now that information is well and truly in the public domain, we think you would find that defence difficult. We would therefore recommend that all those drivers with narcolepsy inform the DVLA of their condition as soon as possible.