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
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
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.
To diagnose epilepsy, your doctor will take a detailed medical history (including a family history of seizures), gather information about your behavior before, during, and after the episode, and do a physical exam. Make sure someone who witnessed the seizure goes to the doctor with you.
An electroencephalogram (EEG) -- a brain wave study -- can reveal abnormal brain waves characteristic of epilepsy. Keeping someone awake for 24 hours (sleep deprivation) increases the chances of finding abnormalities...
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.
In this article
This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
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