Almost everyone in America spends half their teen years looking forward to one huge milestone event – the first day that they’ll be allowed behind the wheel of a car. Driving is a teenager’s first chance of independence, giving kids the freedom to go where they like, hang out with their friends or even go on a date without having to resort to begging Mom and Dad for a ride. One of the first questions many people with epilepsy ask is: “Will I be able to drive?” The answer is often yes, but for safety’s sake there are a couple of precautions that have to be taken first.
First of all, most states require a person with epilepsy to give their doctor a letter or form about their particular type of epilepsy. Many states will also ask the doctor whether you’ve been taking your medicines regularly. If the doctor says you can be trusted to take your medication, the state’s much more likely to let you into the driver’s seat.
Once you get closer to driving age, it’s probably a good idea to check over your medical records, too. If you’ve been seizure-free for a while, you might want to experiment with lowering your medication levels six months to a year before you reach driving age. On the other hand, if you’ve been having problems controlling your seizures, nearing driving age might spur you to head to the local epilepsy center and reconsider your treatment plan. After all, the better your seizures are controlled, the more likely you are to get your hands on that steering wheel.
Even if your seizures aren’t well-controlled enough to get a driver’s license, there are still a few alternatives to spending your days at home sulking. Parents and friends can help you out, and carpools and public transportation are often available too. Lack of a driver’s license due to epilepsy can only mess up your life if you let it.
Topic Editor:Gregory L. Holmes, M.D.
Last Reviewed: 10/24/06
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