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FAQs

Can I still drive if I have sleep apnoea? Do I have to inform the DVLA about my sleep apnoea?

This depends on whether you are suffering from symptoms that would impact on your driving.  If you have sleep apnoea without any daytime sleepiness, you can keep driving and don’t have to tell the DVLA. But if you have sleep apnoea syndrome and symptoms severe enough to impact your driving, you must stop driving and tell the DVLA.  Failing to inform the DVLA is a criminal offence, and it could affect your insurance cover. You can be fined up to £1,000 if you don’t tell the DVLA about a condition that affects your driving. If you’re not sure whether you need to tell the DVLA about your sleep apnoea, speak to your Doctor. There is also a really helpful leaflet produced by the DVLA that can help to make things more clear. It’s always better to be safe and double check if you are unsure, as the consequences of not reporting medical conditions can be severe.

How can sleep apnoea affect my driving?

Tiredness can kill.  Driving when you’re tired can pose a huge risk to you and other road users.  But what if you suffer from a sleep disorder like sleep apnoea that leaves you feeling tired every day? If you snore heavily or have sleep apnoea, you can feel tired even after a full night’s sleep. Our snoring and sleep apnoea pages contain more technical information about why these conditions can lead to daytime sleepiness. Research shows that almost 20% of road accidents are sleep related. If you’re suffering from daytime sleepiness, drinking a cup of coffee or winding the window down in your car isn’t going to stop you from drifting off. If you have a car crash because your driving was impaired by tiredness, the consequences can be severe.

How do I tell the DVLA about my sleep apnoea?

You can inform the DVLA by phone, letter, email, or filling in a form. If your Doctor says you are unsafe to drive, you must stop driving. Once you are successfully receiving treatment, your medical consultant will say you are safe to drive. You can then resume driving under Section 88 of the Road Safety Act while you wait for the DVLA to process your licence application. This only applies if the DVLA have received your licence application and you meet the criteria.

What if I lose my licence? How long will it take to get my licence back?

It should only take a few weeks to get your licence back. If you’re a commercial driver, you should let your Doctor know as they will be able to fast track your treatment. Once you’re being successfully treated, you will be able to resume driving.

How do I start driving again after getting treatment for sleep apnoea?

Once your condition is under control and you’re receiving treatment, you have to reapply for your licence. You can then resume driving under Section 88 of the Road Traffic Act. If you didn’t voluntarily surrender your licence, and instead had it revoked or refused, the rules are different. You won’t be able to start driving again until a licencing decision has been made by the DVLA. This can be a lengthy process, so it’s always better to follow your Doctor’s advice and inform the DVLA as soon as you are diagnosed.

What if I have a car crash?

If you have sleep apnoea syndrome but fail to tell the DVLA and/or your insurance company, your insurer may refuse to support any claim you make. If you have an accident, your insurance company or the police can request details of any medical conditions you are currently receiving treatment for. If a driver causes a death because their driving was impaired by tiredness, they can be charged with death by dangerous driving.  The maximum penalty for this offence is 14 years in prison.

Will being diagnosed with sleep apnoea affect my car insurance?

Having sleep apnoea syndrome does not mean that your insurance quote will go up. If you have sleep apnoea syndrome and symptoms severe enough to impact your driving, you must stop driving and tell the DVLA.  But, once your symptoms are being controlled through treatment, the DVLA will give you permission to drive.  The DVLA will only give your licence back when they think you are fit to drive.  This means you should not be treated any differently to a driver without sleep apnoea syndrome.  The Equality Act 2010 states that insurers must justify any different treatment of customers with medical conditions.  They must do this using risk data, medical research information or medical reports about the individual.  If you have sleep apnoea syndrome but fail to tell the DVLA and/or your insurance company, your insurer may refuse to support any claim you make. You can also face fines of up to £1,000, or criminal charges.

Where can I find more information about sleep apnoea and driving?

Hopefully this section has been able to answer your questions about sleep apnoea, daytime sleepiness, and driving.

There are plenty of other great resources out there that can help to put your mind at rest.

DVLA

Brake

RealSleep

British Lung Foundation

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Question

Would you like to take a brief questionnaire to see your sleep aponea risk levels?

Yes
No
Question One of Eight

Complete the following clinically approved screening questionnaire to find out if you are at risk of suffering from sleep apnoea.

Do you snore loudly? (Louder than talking, or loud enough to be heard through closed doors)

Yes
No
Question Two of Eight

Do you often feel tired, fatigued, or sleepy during daytime?

Yes
No
Question Three of Eight

Gender - Are you male?

Yes
No
Question Four of Eight

Has anyone observed you stop breathing during your sleep?

Yes
No
Question Five of Eight

Do you have or are you being treated for high blood pressure?

Yes
No
Question Six of Eight

Body Mass Index (BMI) more than 35?

Yes
No
Question Seven of Eight

Are you over the age of 50?

Yes
No
Question Eight of Eight

Is your neck circumference greater than: Male - 17" or 43cm? Female - 15" or 41cm?

Yes
No
Question Eight of Eight

You are at
risk of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA).