Focus On with Dr. Ahmed Sadek: I Have Epilepsy, Can I Drive?
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One of the biggest challenges patients with seizures face is the impact on driving and their independence. Because seizures are unpredictable, driving can pose a great danger to the patient and the public. Even if seizures are not convulsive, a momentary lapse in awareness can affect judgment and response time. Patients with seizure disorders should be aware of the legal ramifications if they choose to drive and are involved in an accident.
Each state approaches seizures and driving restrictions in a different manner. In Florida, a neurologist is not required to report patients directly to the Department of Motor Vehicle. However, they are responsible for making patients aware of the state laws and advising them on complying with restrictions and reporting themselves to the DMV accordingly. If a patient experiences a seizure, they are advised to abstain from driving until they achieve a six-month seizure-free period. In some cases, your ability to drive may be reviewed on an individual basis at the discretion of both the treating neurologist and the DMV medical review board. These cases include instances where seizures occur only during sleep or without loss of consciousness.
Driving restrictions may also be advised for patients that are either stopping or changing their seizure medication. Even if a patient has been seizure free for several years there is still a risk of seizures when changing or going off a seizure medication, and DMV recommends not driving for period of three months while making these changes.
If you or a loved one has seizures, please ensure that you are discussing your ability to drive safely with your treating provider and ensure you are in compliance with state driving restrictions. Your neurologist or seizure specialist should have access to forms necessary to report to the DMV, and these are also available on the DMV website.
Dr. Ahmed Sadek
Orlando Epilepsy Center, Inc.
Dr. Sadek is the Director of Orlando Epilepsy Center. He is an Assistant Professor of Neurology at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine and a Clinical Assistant Professor of Neurology at the University of Florida Shands, Gainesville. Dr. Sadek is triple Board certified in Neurology, Clinical Neurophysiology, and Epilepsy.