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Driven to despair

Roles and responsibilities in fitness to drive decisions

DVLA

DVLA is an executive agency of the Department for Transport with responsibility for maintaining over 45 million driver records and over 38 million vehicle records. The www.gov.uk website lists its strategic goal as being ‘to get the right drivers and vehicles taxed and on the road, as simply, safely and efficiently for the public as possible’. Its responsibilities include: maintaining records of licensed drivers and registered vehicles; issuing licences to drivers and the maintenance of vehicle driving entitlements; and maintaining records of driver endorsements, disqualifications and medical conditions. 

DMG

As the part of DVLA with responsibility for ensuring that licence holders with medical conditions are safe to drive, DMG is required to make licensing decisions in accordance with the relevant legislation and regulatory guidance set out above. It should:

  • refuse or revoke the licence of any driver who appears to it to be suffering from a disability that is prescribed in legislation;
  • refuse or revoke the licence of any driver who appears to it to be suffering from a relevant or prospective disability which is likely to cause the driver to pose a ‘danger to the public’;
  • set the standards for assessing whether a driver has a relevant or prospective disability which is likely to cause the driver to pose a danger to the public. It should do that in accordance with the regulatory guidance;
  • administer licensing decisions in accordance with the regulatory guidance and good administrative practice; and
  • engage with the public and the medical profession in accordance with the regulatory guidance.

Drivers

All licence holders are required by law to tell DVLA about any medical condition that may affect their fitness to drive if that condition is likely to last longer than three months.  

The medical profession

There are no legal obligations on the medical profession to assist in DMG licensing decisions. However, DMG requires the medical profession to: 

  • advise its patients about whether they are fit to drive while an application for a new or renewed licence is being considered by DMG; and
  • provide advice and complete reports or questionnaires at DMG’s request.

The General Medical Council is carrying out a consultation into confidentiality. The consultation includes an intention to strengthen the guidance it gives GPs about their responsibilities to notify DVLA if they have concerns that their patients have medical conditions affecting their ability to drive safely.