If you have a bipolar diagnosis, whilst it may not affect your ability to drive, you must tell the DVLA or you could be fined up to £1,000.

How do I tell the DVLA about my bipolar diagnosis?

If you are applying for your first driving licence (including provisional) or applying to renew your licence, there is a section on the application form which asks questions about your health. You should use this part of the form to tell the DVLA about your mental health condition. 

If you already have a driving licence and are diagnosed with bipolar you need to fill in the M1 online form on the gov.uk website to tell the DVLA about your diagnosis.

 You'll also need to fill in one of the DVLA’s medical questionnaires with details of:

  • your diagnosis.
  • any medication you are prescribed.
  • how the medication you take makes you feel.

The form also has a page for you to sign to give your permission to the DVLA to obtain details of your medical condition from your doctor. It is important you fill in this form and give the DVLA permission to obtain details from your doctor because if you do not the DVLA could revoke your licence. 

What will the DVLA do with the information I give them?

The information you provide will be considered by the DVLA. They will aim to make a decision about whether you can drive or continue to drive within six weeks of you telling them about your mental health condition. They will write to you if it is likely to take longer than this.

In some situations, the DVLA may need more information before making a decision. The DVLA might want to: 

  • Contact a healthcare professional for more information, such as your doctor, an independent medical specialist, or an optician or optometrist.
  • Ask you to take a driving assessment or driving test, which is like a mini driving test. The DVLA tends to only ask people to go for a driving assessment if they have a physical disability – for example, a visual impairment – so it is unlikely you will be asked to do one of these. 

Once the DVLA has all the information it needs, you will receive a letter from the DVLA telling you whether: 

  • You can keep your driving licence, or have a new one.
  • You can have a driving licence for a shorter amount of time – for example, for 1, 2 or 3 years. If this happens, your fitness to drive will be reviewed when that period comes to an end.
  • You must stop driving.

Can I drive while I’m waiting for the DVLA’s decision?

This will be up to your doctor. If your doctor tells you that you need to tell the DVLA about your condition, you will need to ask them whether you can carry on driving while the DVLA makes its decision. Usually the DVLA will not revoke your licence until all the medical information has been provided, although in some exceptional cases it can revoke your licence immediately if it is in the interests of road safety to do so.

When do I have to surrender my licence?

If you are advised by your doctor to stop driving or if you decide yourself that you shouldn’t drive, you must surrender your driving licence to the DVLA. To surrender your licence, you need to fill in a declaration of surrender for medical reasons from the Gov.uk website and send this to the DVLA with your licence.

You will need to apply for a new licence if you want to start driving again after surrendering your licence.

Can I appeal if the DVLA won’t let me drive?

If you are told that you must stop driving, the DVLA must: 

  • explain why it has made this decision.
  • tell you if and when you can re-apply for a driving licence.
  • tell you about your right to appeal against its decision.

If you disagree with the decision to stop you driving you can write to the DVLA at:

DM Business Support
D7
DVLA
SA99 1ZZ

You must be able to provide relevant information that wasn’t included in the original assessment. 

You must also include: 

  • proof that you meet the required standards for driving (these are explained in the decision letter DVLA sent you).
  • the reference number from your decision letter.
  • If you want to appeal the decision, you will need to make a written application to your local Magistrates Court within 6 months of your licence being refused or revoked. You will need evidence, including medical evidence, to support your argument that the DVLA made the wrong decision and that you are fit to drive.

It is a good idea to get legal advice from a solicitor who specialises in motoring/driving offences before doing this to find out whether you have a good case. You can find a solicitor by contacting the Law Society.