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Sleep Apnoea and Driving (the DVLA and sleep apnoea)

Sleep Apnea And Driving

DVLA sleep apnoea (excessive sleepiness and driving)

The Gov website www.gov.co.uk has a page which you can view here: Report Your Condition
Below is information they provide on their site:

Excessive sleepiness and driving

Excessive sleepiness means that you have had difficulty concentrating and have found yourself falling asleep – for example while at work, watching television or when driving.
You must tell DVLA if you have:

  • confirmed moderate or severe obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS), with excessive sleepiness
  • either narcolepsy or cataplexy, or both
  • any other sleep condition that has caused excessive sleepiness for at least 3 months – including suspected or confirmed mild OSAS

You must not drive until you’re free from excessive sleepiness or until your symptoms are under control and you’re strictly following any necessary treatment.

! You can be fined up to £1,000 if you do not tell DVLA about a medical condition that affects your driving. You may be prosecuted if you’re involved in an accident as a result.

Ask your doctor if you’re not sure if your excessive sleepiness will affect your driving.

How to drive safely and legally with OSA

When people first suspect they have OSA and do the research. All manner of terrifying scenarios (probably) go through their heads; they might even be quite shocked. After diagnoses, the reality sets and naturally, their first concern is their health. Then they learn about how OSA affects other aspects of their life. Especially regarding driving and the rules about notifying the DVLA.

There is a wealth of misleading information on the Internet regarding this topic, so we have created this section to help clear up the confusion and misconceptions.

OSA and the DVLA: How to ensure you keep your license

If you fear OSA could cost you your job – don’t! Many people wrongly believe that having Obstructive Sleep Apnoea means the DVLA will take away your license – and this simply isn’t true. If you have OSA or suspect you may have it, you shouldn’t worry about losing your driving license. One study found that just 1% of OSA sufferers had their driving license revoked.

The exact regulations vary depending on whether or not you are a commercial driver. The general info has been added above, but if you need to learn about your commercial driving status, follow the link below and subsequent links on the GOV site page.

The DVLA’s Updated Guidelines for Sleep Apnoea

OSA is not the problem – tiredness is.

You alone are responsible for deciding whether you are fit to drive. It doesn’t matter whether you suspect you may have sleep apnoea, were up all night with a new baby, or binge-watching Game Of Thrones.

If you are sleepy to the point where your driving could be impaired, you must not drive. 

Tiredness can impair your driving to a similar degree as alcohol, and nobody thinks drinking and driving is acceptable these days.

Plus, if you drive when tired, you’re breaking the law and may invalidate your insurance. If your GP, consultant, or other medical professional tells you that you must not drive, you must not drive.

When do I need a Sleep Clinic or Sleep Test?

There are many symptoms and indicators for OSA, and if you want to read about them and other specific information on Sleep Apnoea, follow our link: Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Keep in mind that you might not have all of these symptoms and that many of these symptoms don’t always mean you have OSA.

If you are concerned or others are worried about your sleep activity, this is where you might think about a sleep test. One of the unique benefits of our Sleep Test is that you can get your confirmation privately, allowing you to decide your next step.

You can also go to your GP and ask for a referral to a sleep clinic. The only issue with this avenue for therapy is the time scale. The NHS is under pressure, and let’s face it, the focus is on the Covid and inoculations. 

The pandemic is just the reality of life at the moment, but even before this crisis, it could still take months before the NHS refer you to a sleep clinic.

If I get an NHS Sleep Clinic, What Happens Next?

 If the sleep clinic does diagnose Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) but say that any sleepiness during waking hours is not excessive — you can continue to drive and do not need to notify the DVLA. The DVLA does suggest that if the tiredness gets any worse, go back to your GP.

If the Sleep Clinic diagnoses moderate or severe OSA with excessive sleepiness, you must not drive. Your sleep clinic must be satisfied that your CPAP or other treatment has your sleepiness under control. You must then notify the DVLA in writing.

Legal obligations – OSA and DVLA

It is important to remember that if you are suffering from a medical condition that affects your driving, then you have an obligation to inform the DVLA about it. Failure to do so can invalidate your insurance and make you guilty of driving without a valid license.

Not informing the DVLA about your OSA is far more likely to see your license revoked than if you report it yourself. Considering how easy it is to notify the DVLA of your condition and treatment, there is little reason to risk that happening.

The DVLA’s Updated Guidelines for Sleep Apnoea

How OSA affects your driving insurance

While many drivers know that the DVLA should be notified about their OSA diagnosis, their insurance companies seem primarily overlooked. However, it is also crucial to inform them, and failure to do so could invalidate your insurance. Do not fear, though – telling your insurance company should make no difference in your coverage or premium.

If you are treated differently due to your OSA diagnosis, they are breaking the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. If the DVLA considers you fit to drive and hold a license, informing your insurer about your OSA should simply be a formality.

The Association of British Insurers and The Scottish Association for Sleep Apnoea have information on their websites concerning these issues.

In-Home Sleep Test

In-home Sleep Test provides a quick, convenient and affordable way to have Sleep Apnoea confirmed. All studies are independently analysed by experienced NHS-qualified sleep professionals, and use the WatchPAT recording device for unrivalled accuracy.
More info £195.00

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