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Diabetes and your driving licence

There are extra rules for people with diabetes who want to drive. This is to make sure it’s safe for you and others. This information is about what to tell your driving licensing authority when you have diabetes.

We’ve campaigned for years to make sure the law is fair. So that you can carry on driving – as long as you’re taking the right steps to stay safe at the wheel.

The rules differ depending on what vehicle you want to drive:

The rules are complicated, so use the tables below to find the information you need. If you understand the rules, you’ll know when to contact your relevant driving licensing authority and why.

 

 

If you live in England, Wales or Scotland, it’s the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) who look after the rules on driving.

If you live in Northern Ireland, it’s the Driver and Vehicle Agency. To make things easier, we’re going to use DVLA throughout this information.

They both have the same rules, but the DVA only uses paper forms, while the DVLA has everything online too.

DVLA rules for people with diabetes

They look at your fitness to drive based on how you treat your diabetes and if you have any diabetes complications.

It’s really important that you follow these rules as soon as they start applying to you. For example, you should stop driving and contact the DVLA as soon as you find out you have to take insulin for the long term or if you start to develop complications. If you don’t, you’re breaking the law.

In all cases, if you have one severe hypo at the wheel you must stop driving and tell the DVLA straight away.

Use the tables below to find the information you need so you can drive safely.

Driving a car or motorbike (Group 1) and severe hypos

A severe hypo is one where you need help and can’t treat it on your own. This is different from having a regular hypo.

"A friend came around and found me unconscious. I was having a really bad hypo. I ended up having to go to hospital" - Mim

More than one severe hypo while awake (when you’re not driving)

If you have more than one severe hypo while awake in 12 months you must stop driving and tell the DVLA. Your licence will be revoked but you can apply again after three months. See your healthcare team to get their advice on your diabetes treatment and management to cut down the risk of this happening again.

To be clear, this is about more than one severe hypo when you’re not driving. If you have even one severe hypo while driving, you must stop driving and tell the DVLA straight away.

A severe hypo while sleeping

The law about severe hypos while sleeping changed for Group 1 licences (cars, motorbikes) after we campaigned for the DVLA to recognise they aren’t a risk for driving. You can’t take the same steps to treat them that you can when you’re awake, so it wasn’t fair.

The DVLA now say you don’t need to tell them if you have a severe hypo while you’re asleep.

It isn’t the same for Group 2 licences (for large vehicles and lorries). You can’t drive with a Group 2 licence if you don’t have full hypo awareness or you’ve had one severe hypo in the last year. If you have a severe hypo at any time, you must stop driving and tell the DVLA.

DVLA rules for a Group 1 driving licence (cars and motorbikes) based on how you treat your diabetes

Use these tables to check the DVLA rules that apply to you. Find your treatment in the menu below to see what the DVLA say you must do.

 

Insulin

Do I need to tell the DVLA?

Yes – apply for a restricted licence

What are the rules about severe hypos when I’m not driving?

If you have more than one severe hypo while awake in a 12-month period, stop driving and tell the DVLA. Your licence will be revoked. You can reapply for it 3 months later.

Do I need to check my blood sugars?

Yes, follow the two-hour rule. See ‘When to check blood sugar levels for driving’

How long will my licence last?

One, two or three years.

 

Temporary insulin (for less than 3 months)

Do I need to tell the DVLA? You don’t need to tell the DVLA as long you’re seeing your healthcare team and taking their advice.
What are the rules about severe hypos when I’m not driving? If you have more than one severe hypo while awake, stop driving and see your healthcare team for advice.
Do I need to check my blood sugars? Yes, follow the two-hour rule. See ‘When to check blood sugar levels for driving’
How long will my licence last? Until you’re 70 years old unless you move on to insulin permanently.

 

Other medication that can risk hypos (like sulphonylureas)

Do I need to tell the DVLA? Only if you’ve had a severe hypo – see the next row
What are the rules about severe hypos when I’m not driving? If you have more than one severe hypo while awake in a 12-month period, stop driving and tell the DVLA. Your licence will be revoked. You can reapply for it 3 months later.
Do I need to check my blood sugars? Check with your healthcare team first.
How long will my licence last? It depends on whether your healthcare team says you’re at risk of hypos.

 

Other diabetes medication

Do I need to tell the DVLA? No
What are the rules about severe hypos when I’m not driving? You're not at risk of severe hypos
Do I need to check my blood sugars? No
How long will my licence last? Until you're 70 years old

 

Diet and exercise only

Do I need to tell the DVLA? No
What are the rules about severe hypos when I’m not driving? You're not at risk of severe hypos
Do I need to check my blood sugars? No
How long will my licence last? Until you're 70 years old

 

DVLA rules for a Group 2 driving licence (large vehicles and lorries) based on how you treat your diabetes

Use these tables to check the DVLA rules that apply to you. Find your treatment in the menu below to see what the DVLA say you must do.

Insulin

Do I need to tell the DVLA? Yes – apply for a restricted licence
What are the rules about severe hypos when I’m not driving? If you have one severe hypo while awake you must stop driving immediately and tell the DVLA.
Do I need to check my blood sugars?

You must check your blood sugars at least twice a day including days when you’re not driving.

You must also check your blood sugars no more than two hours before you drive, every time you drive—and then every two hours of the journey.

You must be able to supply 3 months of uninterrupted evidence of your blood sugar readings on your blood glucose meter (glucometer).

How long will my licence last?

One year then you need to renew it

 

Temporary insulin

Do I need to tell the DVLA? You must tell the DVLA and apply for a restricted licence
What are the rules about severe hypos when I’m not driving? If you have one severe hypo while awake you must stop driving immediately and tell the DVLA.
Do I need to check my blood sugars?

You must check your blood sugars at least twice a day including days when you’re not driving.

You must also check your blood sugars no more than two hours before you drive, every time you drive—and then every two hours of the journey.

You must be able to supply 3 months of uninterrupted evidence of your blood sugar readings on your blood glucose meter (glucometer).

How long will my licence last?

One year then you need to renew it

 

Other medication that can risk hypos (like sulphonylureas)

Do I need to tell the DVLA? You need to tell the DVLA if you’re on this medication.
What are the rules about severe hypos when I’m not driving? If you have one severe hypo while awake you must stop driving immediately and tell the DVLA.
Do I need to check my blood sugars?

You must check your blood sugars at least twice a day including days when you’re not driving.

You must also check your blood sugars no more than two hours before you drive, every time you drive—and then every two hours of the journey.

You must be able to supply 3 months of uninterrupted evidence of your blood sugar readings on your blood glucose meter (glucometer).

How long will my licence last?

One year then you need to renew it

 

Other diabetes medication

Do I need to tell the DVLA? You need to tell the DVLA if you’re on any medication.
What are the rules about severe hypos when I’m not driving? You’re not at risk of severe hypos.
Do I need to check my blood sugars?

No

How long will my licence last?

A Group 2 licence is renewed every 5 years or at the age of 45 (whichever is sooner).

 

Diet and exercise only

Do I need to tell the DVLA? No
What are the rules about severe hypos when I’m not driving? You’re not at risk of severe hypos.
Do I need to check my blood sugars?

No

How long will my licence last?

A Group 2 licence is renewed every 5 years or at the age of 45 (whichever is sooner).

In all cases, you must tell the DVLA if you have a pancreas or islet transplant or any diabetes complications.

 

If you haven’t told the DVLA about your diabetes

This can happen if your healthcare team doesn’t tell you that your diabetes, or the way it’s now being treated, affects driving.

If you’re not sure, check the DVLA Summary for a Group 1 Licence or the DVLA Summary for a Group 2 Licence or go to the DVLA directly.

If you’ve carried on driving without telling them when you needed to, you’ve broken the law. Your insurance could be invalid, you could be fined and if you’ve had a collision you could be prosecuted. So if you’ve got any doubts at all, ask your healthcare team or call our helpline to get advice straight away.

If you lose your Group 1 licence

What happens next depends on why it was revoked.

"I knew the rules. Having two hypos and not one hypo means you need assistance. It was a massive shock to lose my licence. I called the Diabetes UK helpline, and they followed through with everything they said they were going to do. Six weeks after coming out of hospital, I got my licence back." - Mim

Contact our helpline

You had more than one severe hypo while awake in 12 months

It doesn’t matter if you weren’t at the wheel at the time, you’ll still have your licence taken away and the DVLA will need to decide if it can be reissued. The DVLA won’t start to look into this until three months have passed after the last severe hypo.

You had a severe hypo at the wheel

If you’ve had a severe hypo while driving, you’ll probably lose your licence because the DVLA will say you don’t have good enough hypo awareness to drive safely. You must let them know straight away.

If you have a collision or are seen to be driving badly and it’s spotted by the police or they’re called out, then your licence will be revoked – if they find you had very low blood sugar at the time.

To get your licence back, your healthcare team will need to support your reapplication. The DVLA will need to be satisfied that it happened because of something unusual and that it probably won’t happen again. They’ll need to know that over a period of at least three months (it could be longer), you didn’t have another one and that your blood sugar levels have been good.

What if your blood sugar level drops after a collision?

This can happen—particularly if you’ve been in an incident and you had to wait for the emergency services to arrive. So you didn’t have time (or weren’t able) to treat the start of a hypo.

You could lose your licence unless you can prove that your blood sugar levels weren’t low at the time it happened, so didn’t cause it.

It helps if you can show that your blood sugar readings weren’t dangerously low before the incident. So although you don’t need to have a meter with a memory to hold a normal driving licence, it can help here as it can prove that you’d been testing at times relevant to driving —and that your blood sugar levels were OK within 2 hours before the accident.

If an ambulance is called, the paramedics fill out a report giving the results of any tests, like a blood glucose test. There’s also a section on what they think of your level of consciousness. If you can answer questions normally, they should note this down and it can be helpful to your case. Their report also shows the time help was called and so how long you may have had to wait for treatment following a shock. This all helps, so make sure and ask for a copy of the ambulance report to show the DVLA.

If the police arrived first, you could ask them for a report that says what time they were called and what was said between you. Again, this could help prove to the DVLA that there was some time between the shock of the incident and when you were able to treat your diabetes.

Call our Helpline if you want more advice on any of this.

Driving larger vehicles with a Group 1 licence

Older, paper licences used to be issued with entitlements showing that the driver could drive (or tow) some larger vehicles.

But if you’re now on a medically restricted licence, it won’t allow you to drive the same types of vehicle that were on your old paper licence.

If you want to drive these larger vehicles, you’ll need to apply for a Group 2 licence which will be stricter.

Towing a trailer or caravan

The rules around this can seem complicated and can depend on when your licence was issued. It’s best to get in touch with DVLA.

Driving a minibus

Again, the rules around this can seem complicated and it’s best to go direct to the DVLA.

For example, it can depend on whether you’re being paid to drive the minibus and it can depend on when your licence was first issued. Check with the DVLA.

Driving a taxi

If you’re in Northern Ireland, you apply for a taxi licence through the DVA. The licence has similar rules as a Group 2 Licence.

In England, Scotland and Wales, you need a Group 1 licence to drive a car-sized taxi but you’ll also need to apply to your local taxi licencing authority. They will have stricter rules similar to those for a Group 2 licence.

Driving emergency vehicles

It’s now up to the service (police, fire or ambulance) in your area. They have their own rules about whether you can drive an emergency vehicle if you take insulin.

The DVLA’s statement on this says that their rules are the same as they are for all drivers with Group 1 or 2 licences. But the service in your local area can decide if it needs to be stricter. It’s down to them.

This means that for larger vehicles, like a fire engine, you’ll probably need a Group 2 licence but it’s up to your employer to risk assess the role. Then they need to risk assess you and decide if it’s safe for you to do the job.

So, in some areas of the country the local emergency services will have extra rules for drivers of emergency vehicles treating their diabetes with insulin. It’s to make sure they’re as safe as any other driver and to avoid discriminating against people with diabetes who can meet the standard.

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