Community Forum

can people with epilepsy drive?

can people with epilepsy drive? and Im wondering since they can have a siezure and might cuase a wreck


When I was diagnosed, I was not able to drive (that is, my license was taken away) until I had been blackout free for a certain period of time. What with my shoddy memory now, I can't remember that exact period time but it was quite long.  

I have not had any blackouts in seven years and have had my driver's license and have been driving for a good number of years now.  For a long time though there was a note on my license that said I had epilepsy.

I am curious to know though how stringent laws and what guidelines/rules are imposed.

I've been in two MVA due to epilpesy and both times I was lucky and nobody was hurt. I will drive only on my hunting property but never again in public. Here in Michigan it's six months seizure free for a license. I still have small sezuires so I will not even try for a license when it is due.

However I know another person who has seizures often and his doctor knows this but he drives regularly and last time I knew he was still driving. Some people only think of theirselves till it's too late

I began with simple partials/complex partials when I was 10. It wasn't until I was 16 that it generalized into the only grand mal I have ever experienced, which was three years ago. My CT scan, along with the two EEGs were normal, which I know doesn't prove or disprove anything.

 I am on meds and currently dirve, although I drive slowly and limit it only to work and occassionally to see friends. I know my limitations. I still do have my auras, but I find that half of them are psychological, meaning to me the fear of having seizures actually induces my symptoms. But when I calm myself, I think clearly. In fact I decided to drive home from a friends house once after not sleeping well and I was sure I was having a "big one" while driving. But what I did was reassure myself and breathe deeply. The panic is really a trigger for me. Another thing I find is that when I'm feeling "odd" at work I get into my car and my brain is immediately focused. It can be scary, but I suppose if you aren't prone to spontaneous grand mals it should be ok. Just listen to your body, be smart about it and let God handle it if you believe in that sort of thing.

My mother has seizures and has since she was about thirty.She wouldhave three month periods with no seizures and then have one week with many.She's currently 36 and I'm 14, since my mother cant drive my father had to work 2 jobs to support our family,leaving him at work from 7:30 in the morning to almost 10 at night.because my mother cant drive(because of her seizures) me and my brother are not able to do normal "kid" things such as sports,drama programs,and other activities that most kids are doing.It extremely hard on my family but its been almost 5 months without my mom having a seizure and in a month or so she legally will be able to drive again.

 I'm looking for opinions to try and figure out if it is safe for my mother to be driving.I'm just a concerned child i guess,I dont want to be worried everyday that my mom will have a seizure while driving and be severely injured or worse.

your advice on this would be greatly appreciated.

Conver -

Your concerns are oh-so valid! I have had epilepsy all my life, and I'm now 42. A far cry older, but I have had to deal with your concerns for many years. Speaking as a person who has to deal with the issues of driving, though, I have always been happiest when allowed to be independent. My biggest concern is hurting someone else in a wreck, and causing great injury. I rarely drive with anyone else in the vehicle (we live in a very remote area in Nevada.) I had a seizure just a few weeks ago, so I am currently driving - which really sucks! But I know my husband and family really break out into a sweat when I get my license back. I always do pre-trip check - did I take my meds? On time? Is it a necessary trip? When I have break-through seizures, though, I don't drive for at least 6 months, to see if any alterations to my doses have any adverse effects.

Do you live in an area with public transportation? When I was in college, that was how I was forced to get around. I wasn't able to get my license until I was 24. Asking for a ride from friends can get old, I know, but I find that usually people are willing to help. Can your friends take you to/from sports, drama programs, etc.? My friends were great that way, if I asked. That is the hardest part, but necessary to achieve what you want.

I know it is hard and scary, but people need to feel independent. I'm sure you feel that as a 14-year-old without your license. Now think about how a grown woman must feel, especially if she had that freedom before she started having her seizures. I know this doesn't make you feel better, or put your mind at ease, and I apologize for that.

I hope I didn't concern you to much now that this was a question from a few years back.

Linda..State law varies between state to state..What is your state's law?

It's 3 Months where I live.  I have gone that long without a seizure, but I won't try for a license.  I could have a seizure at any time.  I really would hate to have an accident and possibly kill someone.  No way will I even try.

Laws vary from state to state in the US and among different countries. People who are still having seizures are generally prohibited from driving until they are seizure free for a period of time. That period may be from 3 months to 2 years, depending on laws in our area. Here is a link to info about driving and I encourage everyone to contact their own department of motor vehichles to check local laws.

Epi_help Resource Specialist

I am 25 years old and I have been having seizures since I was age 9. I have never had my drivers license, but would love to have them. I have a CT Scan and a EEG this comming week, they are trying to do whatever they can so I can get them. I "Only have my seizures in my Sleep"! I understand that I am an epilesptic, but I should be able to drive. Not being able to drive hasn't ever really bothered me before because whenever I had to go somewhere I would just call a cab...well we just moved to a beautiful little town on Prince Edward Island and there aren't any cabs in our town. I feel like I am stuck to the house. I have a 2yr old and a 4 yr old. I always worked before we moved here, I just called cabs everyday,  But here I can't even do that! I love staying home with my children, but right now I haven't got a choice either. I only worked part-time before and I really enjoyed "Getting out" for a couple hours a day. I guess what I am trying to say is I wish I had my license and didn't have to depend on my husband so much. He has to take work off at least once a week to bring me our one of our children for appts, he waits in the car while I go in and get some groceries..even checking the mail, I can't do that without someone bringing me to do it. I am so young but at the same time I feel so old. 

epi_help I feel very sorry for you

Take it from someone who's older and stranded - I can so relate to how you feel!  I have had epilepsy since I was 2 yrs old, and I finally got my license when I was 24, starting a new job.  I am 42 now, and I teach in a very rural town (approx. 80 people in the town limits!) so getting around is crucial.  A few yrs ago my neurologist and I tried to wean me off one of my meds to get me onto only one.  Three years and 6 seizures later we decided to get me back to where I had been prior to that.  For 3 yrs my husband and family carted me around!  Talk about humiliating for a 40-something year old.  Once we got me stablized, I was able to start driving again.  For 2 yrs.  Then a month ago I had another seizure.  Back to being carted around. 

I tried commuting by bicycle in order to maintain my independence, but we live 4 miles from town up a mountain pass.  Getting to work is easy, but you can imagine what getting home is like.  Anyway, Nevada only wants a letter from my neurologist, and he says he'll wait 6 months before he'll consider it.  I think my family would like to see me quit driving altogether, but like you say, independence is so important for people of all walks of life!



hopefully NOT......driving with e is only going to cause havoc for sure. Anyone who feels fine and drives should talk to someone with a mild form of e which is usually referred to "petite" seizures which is what I have, and I can not drive and would not because I can have a s with a click of your fingers and in 10 seconds it's over and so can someones life if I was closed.

I have my driver's licence, have to have a driver's medical once a year, drug levels done every 3 months. I have rules that I adhere to for driving, not ones made by the docs, but by myself.

If I have NOT had at least 7-8 hours sleep- no driving

If I am feeling the least bit tired- no driving

If I had bloodwork done- no driving

The list goes on and on, there are 10 rules.

Despite my rules I do get to drive, and that gives me my independence. Although my fiance and sons would drive me wherever I needed- I need to be able to do things alone.

i drive. i have not had a grand mal seizure since 2003. i have had some simple partials (an aura) but in my state at least (pennsylvania) that does not mean you have to lose your license since there is no loss of consciousness. it's just a feeling i have really.

you must be seizure free for 6 months otherwise.

it is scary to drive, but i am also in your situation, i have a 4 yr old and a 2 yr old and i driving is very important to me. i do not get out alone unless i drive myself there. i do limit my driving though. and i am on medications.  i drive because my seizures are very well controlled and also follow a pattern: grand mals in my sleep.  but it scary and a very big issue. i had much rage when i lost my ability to drive...

good luck to you.


The laws do vary from state to state as some of you have said and there are exceptions.  I am from Alabama and the law now states that anyone having only nocturnal sezures may get a license. I think, too, that they changed the part about being seizure free from 1 year to 6 months.  No biggie.  Just be careful on the roads and know when and when not to drive.  I am lucky, as my seizures only occur while I am sleeping.  Of course it wakes me up but hey I will take that any day over not having a license.  Always check the laws of your state before getting a license; and if you are like I was when I was 32, take it to the courts!  I faught my battle and won!  I just have to be careful and know that if my meds have made me dizzy or I have not gotten enough sleep that I should not drive. Believe me, if you do take certain cases like this to court, know this DMV's around the nation don't want any hassle!  Just ask them to pull all the files of drunk drivers, people that drive down the wrong side of the road, people driving without licenses, etc... from the last 5 years!  You'll win your case!  The DMV's are so bogged down with other things and of course the police do not want to look bad, but only do this if you have have followed the rules and trulu believe that you are not a threat to yourself and others on the road.  In my case, I only had seizures at night but they still were not going to let me get my license.  So I hired a good attorney and he dove in head first and they gave in.  But I do stress to obey the laws of the time span for being seizure free.  Then if they still do not let you get a license take it to court!

When I initially was driving I was unaware that I was having simple partial seizures.  I did hear horns honking but did not know who they were honking at. One time I realized they were honking at me, I looked at the spedometer and noticed I was going real slow and I was in the fast lane.  I was attending college at that time.  I went to college and I went to class and had a grand mal seizure and the University contacted the state and my driver's license was taken away from me. 

 In one way I was mad but the Neurologist did an EEG and told me that I was having simple partial seizures during the EEG test.  It made sense to me why people were honking at me on the freeway.  I have not driven since then.  I feel I am very healthy.  I was working for a Police Dept at the time. 

 The Neurologist told me to work in the medical field and I changed my career and I did, and I have worked in the medical field for over 20 years.  I still do not drive.  I have a lot of friends that give me rides.  Some people think of it as a limitations but really it is an opportunity to meet people.  I have been able to get jobs and meet people this way it is not a limitation!

I have never been able to drive. IMy life is very limited, and I don't have freedom as some do. Everyone who regularly drives takes it for granted. It is a privilege.

Thank you someone in my class said how they hate driving and I went up to them and said "F**K you driving is a privilege I would kill to be able to drive"

yes but your doctor must sign of to dmv safety and you must take another driving test.... states have different time / wating periods to see if your meds work I am from calif

With the neurologist that I have had the rule is I have to be seizure free for 6 months. Since then I have only been able to drive for 4 months. I have truly missed the independence of driving but I rather be safe then have one before or while I am driving. In all states it is different so best bet is ask your neurologist and they will be able to give you the best answer.

With the neurologist that I have had the rule is I have to be seizure free for 6 months. Since then I have only been able to drive for 4 months. I have truly missed the independence of driving but I rather be safe then have one before or while I am driving. In all states it is different so best bet is ask your neurologist and they will be able to give you the best answer.

Our Mission

The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is to lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures, and save lives.

24/7 helpline