If you have seizures that alter your awareness, consciousness, or muscle control, you may not have the legal right to drive.
- Laws vary from province to province, but in many cases you have to be seizure-free for at least 6 months to 1 year before you can get a driver's licence.
- The laws of the province you live in, not your doctor, decide whether or not you have the right to drive. Your doctor should be able to tell you what the current laws are in your province and whether you meet the criteria for driving.
- Before getting a licence, you may have to show proof from your doctor that you are receiving treatment and that the treatment has brought your seizures under control. (Remember, too, that some drugs used to control epilepsy may make you drowsy. If you have just started a new drug, don't drive until you know how the drug will affect you.)
In general, the risk of having a seizure-related car crash is greatly reduced in people who have been seizure-free for 1 year. Driving may be safe before 1 year for some people. People who always have an aura before a seizure begins are also at reduced risk. The aura acts as a warning, which may give a driver time to pull over before the seizure begins. Auras are considered seizures, though, and may fall under the same guidelines for restricting driving privileges in your province.
Not taking antiepileptic medicine as prescribed (missing a dose, for instance) increases the risk of having a crash, so it is especially important to take medicine correctly, especially if you drive.
The laws about who can drive may seem unfair. Not having the legal right to drive may rob you of your sense of independence. It can limit your school and career choices, affect your social and leisure activities, and make basic needs of daily living harder to meet.
But the laws can also keep you and others safe until your seizures are under control. If you have a seizure while driving a car without a licence and cause a crash, your insurance company may not cover damages or injuries. Worse, you may hurt or kill yourself or others.
You cannot predict when seizures will occur. Do not put yourself and others on the road at risk by driving without the legal right to do so.
Current as of: November 20, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: John Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics
Brian O'Brien, MD, FRCPC - Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Steven C. Schachter, MD - Neurology