Driving

4. When DVLA/DVA decides that the person can continue driving

If DVLA/DVA decides that the person can continue to drive, they will issue a new driving licence. This will be valid for a limited period. For a person with dementia, the licence duration is almost always one year. However, for very early dementia it may occasionally be longer - up to a maximum of three years.

It is a good idea for relatives, or others close to the person with dementia, to monitor - tactfully - the person's driving skills. Their condition should also be regularly reviewed by their doctor.

Reducing the risks

All drivers can take steps to make their driving safer. For someone with dementia the following tips may help to minimise their risk of having an accident when driving.

  • Drive regularly to help maintain skills and confidence.
  • Drive short distances on familiar routes at quiet times of the day as these may generally present fewer problems than long, unfamiliar trips or journeys in heavy traffic.
  • Drive in daylight with good road and weather conditions.
  • Drive without distractions like the radio for better concentration.
  • Get a passenger to navigate.

Even if someone is issued with a licence, it is helpful if they can begin to think ahead to the time when they will need to stop. Talking to others about this and beginning to introduce practical changes will make the adjustment to stopping driving more straightforward when the time comes. See 'Tips: supporting someone who is no longer driving' for more on this.