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Epilepsy Health Center

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Epilepsy and Driving - Topic Overview

If you have seizures that alter your awareness, consciousness, or muscle control, you may not have the legal right to drive.

  • Laws vary from state to state, but in many cases you have to be seizure-free for at least 6 months to 1 year before you can get a driver's license.
  • The laws of the state you live in, not your doctor, decide whether or not you have the right to drive. You can find out about the law in your state by visiting the Epilepsy Foundation website at
  • Before getting a license, you may have to show proof from your doctor that you are receiving treatment and that the treatment has brought your seizures under control. (Remember, too, that some drugs used to control epilepsy may make you drowsy. If you have just started a new drug, don't drive until you know how the drug will affect you.)

In general, the risk of having a seizure-related traffic accident is greatly reduced in people who have been seizure-free for 1 year. Driving may be safe before 1 year for some people. People who always have an aura before a seizure begins are also at reduced risk. The aura acts as a warning, which may give a driver time to pull over before the seizure begins. Auras are considered seizures, though, and may fall under the same guidelines for restricting driving privileges in your state.

Recommended Related to Epilepsy

Understanding Epilepsy -- Symptoms

Seizures are the basic indicator of epilepsy. They vary widely: Staring straight ahead, repetitive swallowing, and lapsing into complete immobility for a few seconds characterize absence (petit mal) seizures, which can recur many times in a day. Tonic/clonic (grand mal) seizures, which usually last several minutes, typically begin with a loss of consciousness and a fall, followed by rigidity, then jerking motions and incontinence of urine. After the seizure ends, there is usually a period...

Read the Understanding Epilepsy -- Symptoms article > >

Not taking antiepileptic medicine as prescribed (missing a dose, for instance) increases the risk of having an accident, so it is especially important to take medicine correctly, especially if you drive.

The laws about who can drive may seem unfair. Not having the legal right to drive may rob you of your sense of independence. It can limit your school and career choices, affect your social and leisure activities, and make basic needs of daily living harder to meet.

But the laws can also keep you and others safe until your seizures are under control. If you have a seizure while driving a car without a license and cause an accident, your insurance company may not cover damages or injuries. Worse, you may hurt or kill yourself or others.

You cannot predict when seizures will occur. Do not put yourself and others on the road at risk by driving without the legal right to do so.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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