Text Size:

Current Size: 100%

The law on driving and age

Safety is your responsibility

It’s always the driver’s responsibility to make sure they’re safe. It’s up to you to ensure you are driving within your capabilities and that your car is safe to drive.

Your eyesight

  • Can you see clearly? To drive you need to be able to see properly.
  • When was the last time you had your eyesight test?
  • A regular eyesight test, as well as checking your ability to see clearly, can be good for your health because it may pick up medical conditions early.
  • The standard test of eyesight is that you must be able to read a car number plate from 20m (65' 8"), wearing your glasses or contact lenses if you use them.
  • If you can't do this then don't drive.
  • You could be prosecuted if you can't see well enough to drive, but you drive anyway. If you’re in any doubt, see an optician or optometrist.

You can get a free NHS eye test if:

  • you’re aged 60 or over
  • you have diabetes or glaucoma
  • you’re 40 or over, and your mother, father, brother, sister, son or daughter has glaucoma
  • you’ve been advised by an ophthalmologist that you’re at risk of glaucoma

Medical conditions

If you have a medical condition or disability that could affect your ability to drive, you must tell the DVLA (DVA in Northern Ireland). They will assess your fitness to drive using the information you give them and may ask you to have a medical examination or a driving assessment. You may be:

  • allowed to keep a full licence
  • given a temporary medical licence, valid for one to three years
  • given a licence coded to only drive an automatic car or one with specialist controls
  • in extreme cases, refused a licence

You have to update the DVLA/DVA if your medical condition changes in a way that could affect the way you drive.

You also need to tell your insurance company about your condition and about the DVLA/DVA’s decision.

If you're diagnosed as having an illness or injury, ask your doctor if you need to notify the DVLA/DVA.

You are responsible for notifying the DVLA. Failure to do so is a criminal offence and you could be prosecuted.

Self declaration

  • When you turn 70, the DVLA/DVA will send you a form to renew your licence for three years.
  • You need to declare on this form that you are still fit and able to drive safely.
  • It is your responsibility as the licence holder to inform the DVLA of any medication or medical condition that may affect your driving. 
  • It remains your responsibility to fill in this self-assessment questionnaire honestly and factually. 
If you’re unsure if your medication or medical condition impacts on safe driving or whether your driving abilities continue to meet a safe standard - get professional advice from a Mobility Centre - find out more from Driving Mobility (the network of Mobility Centres).

A personal MOT

When renewing your licence and filling in the required form, it can be an opportunity to think about a personal MOT to help you carry on driving safely for longer:

  1. Make sure you have regular eyesight tests with an optician.
  2. Visit your doctor and seek medical advice relating to any medicines you are taking which may affect your driving. Check that you've notified the DVLA/ DVA of any medical conditions you've developed.
  3. When was the last time someone looked at your driving? You could go for a voluntary appraisal of your driving with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), the Institute for Advanced Motorists (IAM) or your county council if you have one. An appraisal can be a great way to brush up on your skills and carry on driving safely for longer. It can be interesting, even fun, and can help build your confidence, so why not give it a go?

Last updated: March 2019

Previous: Health and wellbeing | The law on driving and age | Next: Safe driving