Woman behind the wheel of a car, featured image around if you Can still drive with MS

Can I still drive with MS?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that can take away your independence, and a big part of a lot of people’s independence is being able to drive. People who are newly diagnosed often worry about their license being taken away, but just as MS is unique to each person so too is its impact on driving.

In this blog, we’ll break down what an MSer such as yourself needs to do once officially diagnosed in relation to driving in addition to other things you should be aware of.

What you need to tell the DVLA

A person diagnosed with MS won’t have their ability to drive stripped away immediately. There is a process in place that involves going to the DVLA to inform them of you being diagnosed. It’s crucially important that you do this because failure to do so can result in a maximum fine of £1000 and possible prosecution if involved in a car accident.

To inform the DVLA, you’ll have to provide them what they need to know via a CN1 form. You’ll need to fill out areas such as

  • Information on yourself (name, address, driving licence number, NHS number, etc.)
  • Contact information and address of your GP and consultant
  • A medical questionnaire, covering details around how you feel on a day-to-day basis and when you last relapsed to gauge your ability to drive
  • The dates of your last and next consultations with your consultant
  • And lastly a declaration that what you’ve submitted is accurate

Once submitting your form you’ll need to wait for some time before hearing back from the DVLA as checking with doctors and consultants can be lengthy. Whilst waiting, you still can drive as long as you have the license and are not disqualified alongside other requirements that can be found on the DVLA’s website.

After careful consideration from them, you will receive 1 of 4 verdicts in relation to your driving status which are

A full licence

The DVLA has not found any concerns around your ability to drive which means you can drive as you did before your diagnosis.

A medical review licence

This is a license that is the same as a full license but has a set period on it (between 1-3 years) that needs to be reviewed.

A medical adaptation licence

You can still drive, but only if you have the fitted controls that are required by the DVLA – you won’t be able to drive in a car that does not have these modifications (both in legality and practicality).

Refusal of licence

You may be told that you are not deemed fit to drive and will have your application refused alongside your license withdrawn. Losing your ability to drive is only 1 of 4 possible verdicts that can be handed out to you which we hope will put your mind at ease slightly.

Don’t forget to tell your insurance company about the verdict as well, failure to do so will likely void your vehicle policy should you get into an accident. You don’t need to mention you have MS specifically if you don’t want to, all you need to say is that you have a licence / medical review licence from the DVLA and are fine to drive.

Adaptations you may need for driving

If you’re in a position where adaptations are needed for driving, then there are plenty that may be required for you to drive.

Internal adaptations

If you experience reduced motor function then there are methods of adaptation that will make your driving experience far easier.

Automatic gear box and power-assisted steering are becoming more and more popular with all kinds of drivers as they reduce movement needed both in the arms and legs.

You may be required to have adaptations like a steering ball for turning, or other hand modifications that can make it easier to break and accelerate for example. You can also get pedal modifications to reduce the distance of the pedal to your foot as well as swapping over the acceleration to the left if necessary.

Getting in and out

These modifications are less focused on the way you drive but are still important for manoeuvrability in and out of the car.

Swivel seats rotate 90 degrees from the footwell to the outside so that getting into a wheelchair or scooter for example is less strenuous. There are also swivel seats available that attach to motorised wheelchairs that make getting in and out of your car easier.

Storing equipment

This kind of adaption is far less likely to be mandated by the DVLA, but since we’re on the topic it’s good to know about.

Hoists to move mobility aids make it more effective to load them on and off your vehicle, in addition to roof stowage for smaller vehicles.

You may also want to make some personal adaptions should they work for you. Not driving at night is a big one, as reduced visibility might make it harder to drive. You also might find that taking public transportation more often or even cycling to places can get you where you need without use of a car.

What help can you get with driving?

There are schemes and options available to MSers when it comes to driving.

If you’re eligible, you can receive a blue badge that makes parking your car easier. You’ll be able to go into disabled bays, park in a lot of places free for up to 3 hours, and park on single and double yellow lines (without causing an obstruction). You might already know if you’re eligible via automatic entitlement from disability payments, but you might have to go through via an assessed route.

Motability is a charity that offers a mobility scheme for helping people find a vehicle to lease. You’ll need to check to see if you’re eligible first and go from there to get what you need and how much it will cost.

We have linked below some other resources around that we think you’ll benefit from reading if you still want to learn more about MS and driving. Just click the buttons below to get started!