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 www.epilepsyfoundation.org/resources/drivingandtravel.cfm
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.
Fifty percent of all patients with newly diagnosed epilepsy will become seizure-free with the first epilepsy drug they try. For the rest, it's try, try again: switching epilepsy medications, adjusting to side effects, and waiting to make sure the new drug works. Others find their seizures are controlled, but they can't tolerate the medication's side effects and need to switch drugs.
Before you ask your doctor if your medication should be switched, make sure you are taking your current medication...
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.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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