A seizure may cause an individual to lose control over their bodily functions — or even become unconscious. If such an event happens while someone is behind the wheel, the result could be catastrophic. DMVs in many states may suspend a driver’s license if a driver is diagnosed with epilepsy or suffers from seizures. This may lead to difficulty obtaining your license after a seizure. The restrictions are for the driver’s safety — and for those who share the road with them. Being diagnosed with epilepsy or seizures can make getting a license or maintaining driving privileges a challenge, but it is possible for the two to coexist. This guide explains how.
What are the driving risks?
The biggest driving risk if you have been diagnosed with epilepsy or other types of disorders causing seizures is that you may have a seizure while driving. If you are on the road, losing control could lead to a severe accident, potentially causing property damage or injuring pedestrians, other drivers and yourself. A classic study of nearly 17,000 respondents found that those who suffer from epilepsy or seizures are no more likely to cause an accident than an average driver. However, should an accident occur, the risk of severe injury or damage is 40% greater.
Medication could also contribute to increasing the risk of a serious accident. As with many types of prescription medication, operating machinery and vehicles is typically not advised. Seizure medication has side effects that can affect a person’s ability to drive safely and defensively. Some of the most common side effects (especially in the beginning) of anti-seizure medications that could impair driving include drowsiness, blurry vision and dizziness.
In addition, driving too soon after experiencing seizures could potentially flag a driver as risky with insurance companies. Drivers who appear reckless or more comfortable with risky behavior are considered more likely to cause an accident.
Driving safely with epilepsy
Living with epilepsy does not mean a person can no longer drive. Just like it is possible to live a normal life despite being prone to seizures, it is possible to drive if you adjust and know how to manage the condition safely. Some ways to drive safely with epilepsy include:
- Report the condition to the DMV: Each state has its own guidelines for drivers with epilepsy. Reporting your condition to the DMV alerts them and provides you with information about potential restrictions.
- Work closely with your doctor: Your doctor will help you manage the condition and, in many states, be your representative if you are seeking reinstatement of your license.
- Take your anti-seizure medication: Anti-seizure prescriptions can help reduce how often you get seizures and their severity.
- Avoid triggers: Driving while you are stressed or tired could increase the chances of a seizure. In other cases, flashing lights could cause one, so you may want to do more of your driving during the day.
- Avoid driving during certain circumstances: Driving at high speeds or during times of day when the sun may affect your vision should be avoided to prevent the risk of a seizure.
- Maintain auto insurance: Car insurance coverage may be more important than ever. Consider upgrading to full coverage car insurance that will pay for damage you cause if you are at fault in an accident.