Driving a motor vehicle is one of the greatest acts of independence in our society. There is no other time in life when a certain birthday takes on such meaning as the age at which one can obtain a license to drive. Many people with epilepsy can drive, but there are obvious safety concerns. More information and advice about driving privileges and epilepsy are found on the page of this site called "Safety while driving."

It is often helpful to remind adolescents that a favorable doctor's report, if one is required, depends on their taking their seizure medicines as prescribed. The desire to drive can motivate teens to be more careful about taking their medication on time. Teens should also be warned that if they are not honest about seizures and later have a seizure while driving that causes an accident, their insurance will not pay for the damage and they may be charged with a criminal offense if anyone is seriously hurt.

As the age for driving approaches, it is often worthwhile to review the adolescent's medical care. If no seizures have occurred for several years, it may be wise to attempt to lower and eventually stop medications at least 6 months or a year before the driving age is reached. If the teen's seizures are poorly controlled, however, approaching the legal age for driving may prompt referral to an epilepsy center for reevaluation and possible changes in the treatment plan.

Teens with uncontrolled seizures cannot obtain a driver's license. Alternatives to driving include riding with friends, carpools, or public transportation. Lack of a driver's license should not stand in the way of social activities or holding a job, although it often does.


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Authored By: 
James W. Wheless MD
Joseph I. Sirven MD
Reviewed By: 
Joseph I. Sirven MD
Tuesday, August 27, 2013