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Rainham man's six-month wait for DVLA's medical check on licence has made his sleep-only epilepsy worse


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A man who suffers from sleep-only epilepsy says he has become "extremely anxious" following a six-month wait for a medical check on his driving licence.

David Neale has had the condition since he was seven but has never had a seizure during the day, leaving him capable of driving safely.

David Neale has been left with feelings of "extreme anxiety" following the wait for his licence. Picture: David Neale
David Neale has been left with feelings of "extreme anxiety" following the wait for his licence. Picture: David Neale

Every five years, the DVLA requests information from the 46-year-old to carry out a medical review on his licence. It usually takes six weeks.

But nearly six months after he sent his application, he hasn't heard anything – and is now driving on an expired licence.

According to Section 88 of the Road Traffic Act, he can legally operate a vehicle even though his licence has run out while the DVLA processes his application.

The resident of Beverly Close, Rainham, works as a mobile phone network designer and surveyor – meaning some weeks he has to drive 400 to 500 miles.

He said: "I haven't been given any evidence that my licence is being reviewed, so it makes it quite hard.

David works as a mobile phone network surveyor and designer. Picture: David Neale
David works as a mobile phone network surveyor and designer. Picture: David Neale

"If I got pulled over, all I have is a plastic card in my pocket that's out of date. I've been told I might have to wait a year."

He says the wait for his licence has made him "extremely anxious" – which has triggered his epilepsy causing his seizures to almost double.

"I'm a key worker. This week I'm in Birmingham for three days and then back in London from Thursday.

"I rely on my driving for work and I have never failed a driving licence review.

"Over 39 years since I was diagnosed with my condition and I've never had a seizure while I'm awake. Why is it taking so long?"

He hopes to raise awareness for the issue for other people who may find themselves in a similar position. Picture: David Neale
He hopes to raise awareness for the issue for other people who may find themselves in a similar position. Picture: David Neale

David, who passed his driving test when he was 18, also works with the Epilepsy Action Group and hopes to raise awareness for others who may be facing a similar situation.

"I've heard through the group a lot of people are going through this at the moment, where their anxiety levels have gone through the roof and they're having more seizures because of it.

"It's not a problem it's taken so long, but what can they give me to prove I can still drive without a licence?

"It's put me in a sticky situation and I'm guessing there are a lot of people out there who find themselves in a similar position."

A DVLA spokesman said: "While we cannot comment on a customer's specific medical case, drivers who have reported a medical condition may be able to continue to drive while their application is being processed, provided that they are fit and well and have not been told by a doctor that they should not drive.

"It may also be helpful to explain that where further details of a driver's medical conditions are needed, we rely on medical professionals involved in their care to provide the necessary information, and we're aware their capacity to respond to routine queries has been impacted by the pandemic."

Read more: All the latest news from Medway

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