Driving with Diabetes
Having diabetes does not mean you cannot drive a car or a motorbike.
Given that your diabetes is well controlled, and your doctor states that you are safe to drive, there is no reason why you cannot have a driving licence or hang on to your existing licence.
Nonetheless, you may need to let your car insurance company and the Driving and Vehicle Licence Agency (DVLA) know that you have diabetes depending on your type of diabetes and how it is controlled.
You should also keep up to date with the latest DVLA guideline changes to driving with diabetes.
Who do I need to inform about my diabetes?
No matter how your diabetes is treated, you must by law inform your insurance company that you have diabetes.
- If your diabetes is treated with insulin, you must inform the DVLA.
If you are applying for a driving licence for the first time, and your diabetes is treated with tablets or insulin, you also must inform the DVLA.
- You must inform the DVLA if any diabetes complications develop that may affect your ability to drive safely.
- If you fail to inform the DVLA or your insurance company then your driving insurance will be invalid.
- You do not need to tell the DVLA if you are treated by diet alone or by tablets that do not bring on hypoglycemia. However, if you change from tablets to insulin treatment, then they must be informed.
You do not need to tell the DVLA if you are treated by:
- Diet alone
- By tablets which carry no risk of hypoglycemia
- Non-insulin injectable medication such as Byetta or Victoza (unless you are also on tablets which do carry a risk of hypos)
Tablets which are deemed to carry a risk of hypoglycemia are sulfonylureas and prandial glucose regulators. Unless you have other complications or reasons that may affect your ability to drive. For information on the current DVLA guidelines, please visit the official DVLA and Direct.gov.uk websites.
People with diabetes are fine to drive as long as certain medical requirements are met. Depending on your medication regime, you may have more or less relaxed conditions under which you can drive.
You should inform the DVLA if any of the following conditions apply:
- You are taking insulin
- You are applying for a license and are on tablets
- You have lost awareness of hypoglycemia
- You have difficulty with your vision that could affect your driving
- You have complications that could affect your driving
If you’re on insulin, you will be put onto a 1, 2 or 3 year license which will need to be renewed before its expiry.
You need only inform your insurance provider if your license changes to a different form of restricted license.
If on you’re on insulin or other medication that can cause hypoglycemia, it’s important that you test blood glucose levels before driving. Do not drive unless your levels are above 5 mmol/l.
Also be aware of any active short term insulin that might be in your body still. If you’re on a long journey, it’s important to stop at least every couple of hours to re-check your sugar levels.
If you are at risk of hypos, it’s very important that you have full awareness of when hypos are happening. If you’re in doubt about whether you may be low whilst driving, find a place to stop and test your blood sugar levels.
People with diabetes can drive HGVs. People on insulin will be issued a 1 year license which will need to be renewed each year. People on tablets that can cause hypos will be issued a 1, 2 or 3 year license which will need to be renewed at the appropriate time. People with diabetes on other regimes should not need a restricted license unless any other medical conditions apply.
Why do I need to inform the DVLA that I have diabetes?
The way your diabetes is treated may or may not affect the type of licence you have. The DVLA will want to check that you are fit to be driving and so they will contact your healthcare team to get an assessment of your suitability to drive.
- For more information about informing the DVLA and applying for a C1/C1+E licence please see our guide to Applying for a Driving Licence.
You should not drive if you;
- Have difficulty recognising the early signs of hypoglycemia.
- Have problems with your eyesight, which are not corrected with glasses.
- Have numbness or weakness in your limbs.
- Have been drinking alcohol.
If you are unsure about any of these you can talk to your diabetes team for more advice.
What's more, diabetic complications may or may not affect you eligibility to drive, and is generally dependent on whether the symptoms themselves impair your driving ability.
Driving for your work
If you drive for work and are diagnosed with diabetes, you may be worried about whether you can continue working. A different set of factors apply depending on whether your diabetes is treated with insulin, tablets or diet alone and what class of vehicle you intend to drive.
Whilst you must inform your insurance company about your diabetes, this should only affect your car insurance premiums if you are put onto a restricted licence.
Car insurance companies are not allowed to discriminate against people with diabetes. If you are on a restricted licence, you may see your insurance premiums rise, however, a suitable amount of shopping around for a good quote can help to make up for this.