Can I drive?

When receiving a diagnosis of epilepsy, it’s normal to have lots of questions. One of these questions is probably: Can I still drive?

In the province of Nova Scotia, there is no simple answer to this question. Luckily, Medical Coordinator Bob McCauley of Service Nova Scotia was able to shed some light on the matter for us.

The first thing that you need to know is yes, it is possible to get a driver’s license if you have epilepsy. When getting your license, you must disclose the fact that you have epilepsy. This will be followed up by an inquiry into your medical history, a process that can include clearance from a doctor. If you are considering getting your license, start by talking to your family doctor. Together, you can save time by filling out the appropriate paperwork ahead of time.

If you already have your license, things are a bit different. If your seizures are controlled but you have one unexpectedly, or you are newly diagnosed with epilepsy, your license may be temporarily suspended. The length of the suspension varies but is typically 6 months. Licences can be reinstated after the suspension if your doctor agrees that you are once again able to drive safely.

Another thing worth knowing is that if you are interested in becoming or already are a commercial driver, the rules are a little more stringent. In order to receive or maintain a class 1, 2, 3 or 4 driver’s license you must be 5 years seizure free.

Keep in mind, each case will be evaluated on an individual basis. After an incident has occurred, it’s important to ask yourself: If this had happened while I was driving, would it have it endangered myself or others?

The people at Service Nova Scotia don’t take the suspension process lightly. They understand the impact a suspended license can have on a person’s life, and they regularly consult their Medical Advisory Board to make sure their decisions are as informed as possible.

If you have any questions regarding your ability to drive and epilepsy, please feel free to call (902) 424-5732 to get in touch with someone at the Medical Department of Service Nova Scotia.

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