Driving Miss Crazy

Cardiff-20130603-00198The day I was diagnosed with MS I was instructed to inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) toot suite, on pain of flogging or death. Well, no, not really, but it was a pretty stern diktat.

I duly found my way through their labyrinth website, downloaded the forms and sent them off. A year passed and I was confident they had forgotten all about me and had guessed I was still a safe driver. I had even taken an ice and snow driving course when I lived in Norway, a terrifying day where I drove down a vertical hill covered in oil to simulate the experience.

The other week though I received a letter with the words, ‘the Medical Advisor has recommended that your current licence is withdrawn…and a new licence will be issued to you, which will be only be valid for 3 years.’ Bearing in mind my previous licence was valid until well into the 2040’s, I was a bit upset.

For unscientific research purposes, I asked the Twittersphere if this was a standard procedure. Apparently it is. Which strikes me as rather odd and arbitrary. If only the powers that be who will be overseeing the change from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) could also accept that MS is a degenerative, progressive illness with no cure. Why make us re-prove that we have MS and it doesn’t get better? I doubt that anyone with MS who has a 3 year license will suddenly be deemed ‘cured’ and re-issued with a longer licence.

To rub salt into the wound, I am also now banned from driving 3.5 – 7.5 tonne vehicles and minibuses (not for hire or reward), for medical reasons. Not that I have any intention of doing so, but it would have been nice to have had the choice, just in case I wake  up one day and think, ‘do you know what, I really feel like bombing down the motorway in a big truck today.’ As you do.

So now my licence lasts until 2016 at which point they will review my case. I’m off out now for a little tootle in the car. The Thermos is ready, the tartan blanket  is packed and I have a tin of pear drops in the glove compartment. Just to be on the safe side.

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8 thoughts on “Driving Miss Crazy

  1. Swisslet says:

    Yeah. This a pissed me off too. Partly, I will admit, because when I renewed after my first 3 year licence expired, I had to fill out EXACTLY the same forms again, including date of first symptoms and diagnosis and things. Um. Didn’t I already tell you that?
    It’s not that I don’t think it’s reasonable to check on people with a progressive and potentially debilitating illness and make sure they alright to drive…. It’s just that they’re so arbitrary about it. They rely on us to tell them in the first place, right… So once we’re signed off by a neurologist, why don’t they trust us to tell them if anything changes? MS is a disease with a thousand faces, so why do we all get the same blanket 3 years? Why do we have to renew when – for example – people with short-sight get to keep theirs indefinitely. Who is checking that they get their eyes tested every year and have an up to date prescription in their glasses? Or that they even drive wearing their glasses, for that matter.
    It’s infuriating and arbitrary.
    I even got annoyed that, although I could get the photo on my licence validated electronically using my passport number, in the same set of forms, they made me send them my ORIGINAL birth certificate. Why? Why? Why?
    And I can’t drive lorries anymore. I never did, but still… A guy can dream.

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Hi there,
      You’ve put it so much better than I did! The blanket ban seems crazy to me, when they’re going to make us each jump through hoops with the DLA/PIP changeover, with a lot of us missing out. Yet they will never re-instate our full licences. And surely people with eye problems should be one of the FIRST categories to be checked up on, rather than the DVLA relying on them to report any changes. Crazy.
      I, too am gutted about never being able to drive a lorry. Pop goes yet another daydream.
      p.s. I love your phrase, ‘a disease with a thousand faces’ – very apt!

  2. Samantha Thompson says:


    I had a letter last week informing me of the same thing. Just have to hope there isn’t too much decline in the next 3 years so they can take it away permanently :/


    • stumbling in flats says:

      Hi Sam,
      Me too, but from what I heard back on Twitter, it’s normally renewed for another three years without a huge fuss. Which is still pointless in my mind!

  3. Sue says:


    I feel the same as you guys and was devestated when I had it promptly revoked due to optic neuritis, I mean come on who would seriously drive with loss of vision? Not me that’s for sure as I wouldnt just be endangering my own life but the lives of others. Thankfully I did get it back but like you guys every 3yrs. Wonder if we could drive a milkfloat? Lol

    And as for DLA/PIP when will these people realise that this condition is degenorative with no cure!

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Hi Sue,
      Hey, great idea about the milkfloat – new career idea??
      Am fed up with the hypocrisy of the government. Blanket three year licence for everyone with MS, yet we all have to be re-tested/prove ourselves to move to PIP. It’s bonkers. If I fail to be awarded PIP, I shall demand my full licence back. Meh!

  4. Interesting. This is not an issue in the U.S. (Or if it is, I’m blissfully unaware of it!) I did choose to switch from driving a stick shift to an automatic because my right foot was like a block of wood for several months. But no authorities are the wiser! I could be a deadly menace on the roadways for all they know (and ask my husband…he’d say I am!).

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Hiya CrankyPants!
      Yup, someone on Twitter said they don’t have this in America. Luckily I have ‘borrowed’ the builder’s car, which is automatic and so much easier! Think he wants it back soon though, lol. Automatics are so much easier to drive – means I don’t spill my drink down me, ha ha!

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