Epilepsy Support - Driving

One of the most uncomfortable discussions that doctors and nurses have with epilepsy patients involves restriction of driving because a driver’s license is often essential to being independent. However, it is important to remember that these laws were written to lessen the chance of harm to self or others resulting from having a seizure while driving.

Every state regulates driver’s license eligibility for people with epilepsy in one way or another. As a driver’s license holder, it is your responsibility to know the regulations in your state. The most common requirement is that you must be seizure free for a certain period of time before you can be allowed to drive.

Although physicians can offer an opinion on your ability to drive safely, the department of motor vehicles makes the final decision. In some states, the physician can offer such an opinion if your seizures do not interfere with consciousness or control of movement. You may be able to continue driving if your seizures occur only at certain times, especially during sleep or if you always have an aura that would warn you to pull off of the road before a seizure begins.

If you are still having seizures, do not hide it from your doctor in order to keep your driver’s license. Not reporting seizures makes it impossible for your doctor to treat your epilepsy effectively. The doctor may be able to prevent more seizures from occurring by making a small change in the dosage of your anti-seizure medicine, for instance, but that would not happen if the doctor did not know it was necessary. Inadequate treatment can lead to more seizures and the result may be that you or someone else may be injured. If your seizures are well controlled, use your driving privileges as a reason to take good care of yourself. If you always take your anti-seizure medicines as prescribed, get enough sleep, limit your alcohol consumption, and visit your doctor regularly, you will be more likely to be able to continue driving safely and legally.

Below is a brief description of the laws governing driving in our practice area:








Lorna Myers, Ph.D.
212-661-7460, option 5