ADHD, Autism, driving and the DVLA

Very recently there has been some controversy in the media regarding this topic.  The Driver Vehicle and Licensing Agency (DVLA) previously used to state that people with neuro-developmental disorders such as ADHD and Autism if the person felt it would adversely affect their ability to drive.

The recent uproar in mainly the Autism community, is that there was a change in DVLA policy stating that if you have Autism or ADHD, you must notify the DVLA regardless or face a fine – see Amelia Hill’s article in the Guardian newspaper on Sunday 3 May 2019:

Since then there has been mass media interest including a challenge from the National Autistic Society ( who understandably took issue with the DVLA making a blanket ruling that all people with neuro-developmental disorders automatically had to notify the DVLA.

This was exactly the same for both ADHD and Autism, yet conditions such as depression and anxiety remained a ‘notify only if you it affects your ability to drive safely’ option.

For those who feel their condition may affect their driving, are expected to go to their GP, a general health practitioner (not a driving competence expert) who can follow the DVLA criteria, then make a judgement as to whether they feel the individual poses a threat or not.  GPs as you can imagine would be thrilled!

Each person with a neuro-developmental disorder who has a license to drive, was assessed on theory (except for drivers as old as me!), then taught by a qualified and expert driving instructor.  They are assessed by a professional driving test examiner and deemed safe to drive.  Whether diagnosed before or after this process, it still does not change the fact that those appropriately qualified to make a professional judgement have ruled that person as competent.

In my professional career, I’ve not encountered, with over 800 diagnostic assessments to date, any people with adult Autism who are unsafe to drive.  Although only my anecdotal viewpoint, based on personal clinical evidence, people with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome, are often careful and rule following individuals making them more prone to safe driving rather than taking risks.

As for people with ADHD, there have only been a handful of clients I’ve assessed who likely pose a problem due to their inattention features, and I’ve only known one whose ADHD traits identified them as a high risk behind the wheel.

Fortunately, after much pressure and signing of petitions as well as Labour MP Jess Phillips involvement, the DVLA have altered their guidance.

Thankfully the DVLA website now says:

“You must tell DVLA if your attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects your ability to drive safely.

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 ADHD will affect your driving.”

(Also see