One million older motorists risk prosecution by failing to disclose serious medical conditions

  • 28 per cent of older drivers have a medical condition such as diabetes or epilepsy that must be disclosed to the DVLA
  • But 49 per cent of these drivers admit they have not done so
  • The majority (57 per cent) fail to notify the DVLA because they believe their condition will not affect their driving ability
  • Older drivers aren’t alone - almost a tenth of all UK motorists with medical conditions that should be disclosed, fail to do so
  • Direct Line urges all motorists to disclose medical conditions to their insurer and the DVLA to remain within the law

More than one million1 motorists over the age of 65 are risking a £1,000 fine, prosecution and the safety of other road users by failing to disclose serious medical conditions.

New research2 from Direct Line Car Insurance reveals almost three in ten (28 per cent) older motorists have medical conditions such as visual impairments, diabetes, heart conditions or epilepsy that must be disclosed to the DVLA. Despite this, almost half (49 per cent) have failed to tell the DVLA about their condition.

Of those over 65 that have failed to disclose their conditions, most (57 per cent) say this is because they don’t feel their condition affects their driving. One in eight (12 per cent) say they weren’t aware of this obligation and 27 per cent cite ‘other’ reasons. 

While the insurer’s study raises concerns about the number of older motorists that could be driving without a valid licence, over 65s are by no means alone. Across the UK as a whole, a quarter (24 per cent) of drivers have so called ‘notifiable conditions’ but one in 10 (nine per cent) have not disclosed this to the DVLA.

Gus Park, director of motor at Direct Line commented: “Regardless of age, drivers that have a notifiable or worsening medical condition or disability must disclose this to the DVLA and also to their insurer to stay within the law. Even those who feel their physical status won’t affect their driving must still disclose their condition, as failing to do so means they risk a hefty fine and even prosecution if they have an accident. 

“The issue of failing to disclose medical conditions is particularly prevalent amongst older motorists but the rules are the same regardless of age, experience or the severity of a medical issue. We’re urging anyone that thinks they may have a condition or a disability they need to disclose to contact the DVLA and their insurer as they risk invalidating their licence and insurance if they don’t.” 

Direct Line’s study looked at the prevalence of some of the most common medical conditions that should be disclosed and found that physical disabilities – affecting a tenth (11 per cent) of older drivers - are only disclosed half (48 per cent) of the time. 

Table one: Common medical conditions that should be reported to the DVLA

%  of motorists over 65 that have this medical condition
Physical disability 11%
Heart conditions 6%
Stroke or mini stroke 3%
Diabetes controlled by insulin 2%
Visual impairment 1%
Brain conditions or severe head injuries 1%
Epilepsy 1%

Source: Direct Line, 2016

There are currently four million drivers with a full licence aged 70 or over and 230 drivers aged 100 or above3.

Direct Line offers the following advice for drivers with a serious medical condition4:

  • Contact the DVLA if you are unsure whether or not you need to disclose any information. If your doctor has told you that you need to stop driving, you will need to send your licence to the DVLA.
  • If you have a medical condition and are unsure if it should be disclosed to the DVLA, then you can check online here:
  • If you have disclosed a medical condition and need to surrender your licence, do so voluntarily as it may mean you can start driving again sooner. There are different rules for when you can drive again depending on if your licence was voluntarily surrendered, or if it was revoked or refused for medical reasons.
  • How to reapply for a new licence: DVLA will send you a letter when your licence is taken away or surrendered, or if your application for a driving licence is refused. This tells you if there’s a period of time you need to wait before getting a new licence. You can then reapply eight weeks before the end of this period.
  • If you are eligible to reapply, you will need to complete a D1 application form and the form for your medical condition and send them to DVLA. You may also need to send evidence of your fitness to drive, but the letter from DVLA will tell you if this is the case. You can order the forms from here:
  • If you had to surrender your licence remember that not everyone is eligible to continue to drive while their renewal application is in process. Check with your doctor and the DVLA in the first instance to avoid a fine up to £1,000.

For further information, please contact:

Notes to editors:

  1. According to the DVLA, 2015, there are currently 7,628,098 people aged 65 and over currently holding a full driving license. 7,628,098* 28 % = 2,113,046 * 49% = 1,035,393
  2. Research conducted by Opinium amongst 506 adults aged 65+ between 6 and 11th November 2015
  3. According to the DVLA, 2015
  4. Advice taken from

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0345 246 3761 or visiting

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