DVLA Advice

Date Posted - 29th May 2018

The British Thoracic Society has published an updated Position Statement on driving and obstructive sleep apnoea in response to recent legislative changes in this area.  This statement  was reviewed and is supported by the BSS:

Position Statement: Driving and Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) 2018 is accessible via https://www.brit-thoracic.org.uk/standards-of-care/quality-improvement/sleep-apnoea/

It contains information on the roles and responsibilities of medical professionals, along with a series of real life scenarios and advice on how these should be approached.  See below for context:

Date Posted - 28th November 2017


Good news – DVLA modify driving regulations for patients with sleep apnoea!

In January 2016 the DVLA regulations for OSA patients with sleepiness were changed in response to a new EU directive.  The directive was intended to harmonise rules across the EU, but in the UK resulted in a new set of inflexible regulations, that did not represent clinical reality.

Extensive discussions between the OSA Alliance (a group set up specifically to address the issue and comprising the OSA partnership group, BTS, BSS, ARTP and other interested parties) were protracted but ultimately successful.

New guidelines were agreed and accepted in October 2017. They are more pragmatic and align with rules governing other medical problems. Given the EU directive and the greyness of many aspects of OSA and driving, they provide an acceptable compromise.

The key feature is that stopping driving now depends on the presence of sleepiness ‘having, or likely to have, an adverse effect on driving’ (for whatever reason).  Rules regarding notification have also changed.

For the full DVLA guidance to professionals see -https://www.gov.uk/guidance/miscellaneous-conditions-assessing-fitness-to-drive

We strongly recommend advising patients to write to the DVLA rather than using the phone.  This will ensure a consistent response from an informed official. Hopefully units will be able to treat such patients quickly.

The EU directive also stipulates review every 3 years for Type 1 licence holders and every year for Type 2 licence holders. This should aim to confirm the patient’s symptoms remain under control, although exact requirements are as yet unclear.


Thank you to Gillian Gibbons on behalf of the OSA Alliance who has put this news together for the BSS.