When DVLA/DVA decides that a person with dementia must stop driving
If DVLA/DVA decides that the person with dementia is not safe to drive, the person must return their licence and stop driving. Find out how to appeal this decision and what to do if the person refuses to stop driving.
Driving and dementia factsheet
If DVLA/DVA decides that the person is not safe to drive, the person must return their driving licence to DVLA/DVA and stop driving.
Drivers who wish to appeal must send a formal petition to either:
- the Magistrates’ Court in England and Wales within six months of the refusal letter being sent.
- a Clerk of Petty Sessions in Northern Ireland, within three months.
During this time, the person is not allowed to drive, even if they think they will win their appeal.
Being told to stop driving affects people in different ways. For some it is a relief, but many others feel it is a huge loss. A few are very angry with the decision as they may not understand how much dementia impacts their driving skills.
Acknowledging the person’s feelings, listening to them and addressing their concerns may help them accept the decision. However, a number of people will be unable to accept DVA/DVLA’s decision.
What happens if a person with dementia refuses to stop driving?
Some people keep driving even though DVLA/DVA has assessed them as unsafe to do so. This can be a very distressing situation for both the person and their family.
However, it is important to remember that the person is not being difficult on purpose. Their dementia may mean they cannot see how their symptoms affect their driving.
Some people may still not accept their diagnosis, or keep forgetting that their licence has been cancelled. This means they may find it very difficult to accept DVLA/DVA’s decision or listen to reasoning from their doctor, family members, carers or professionals.
When this happens, the person’s doctor or family should write in confidence to DVLA/DVA. The agency will follow things up with the local police.
Supporting someone who is unsafe to drive but refuses to stop can be very challenging. Where possible, many carers may:
- hide the car keys
- sell or give the car away
- disable the car or lock the steering wheel
- park the car out of sight.
Anyone can also get help by calling Alzheimer’s Society’s support line on 0333 150 3456 or by talking to people with similar experiences on our online community, Talking Point.