This post is to alert you to what can happen when you come to the attention of the UK DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) as a result of your embarking on certain medications. Sorry if it's a bit long, but there are some important things to report. Seven months ago I was started on a medication which my consultant told me I needed to inform the DVLA of but it would not affect my ability to drive. Being a ‘good boy’ I wrote to the DVLA and told them about it. The months went by and my illness passed. I actually became very well. However, during this period the consultant had received a form from the DVLA asking for a ‘full’ report on my health. The consultant forgot to fill out the form despite repeated requests from the DVLA. Remember, that at this time I was well, and no longer under the care of the consultant. I subsequently learnt that the consultant had written to my GP/doctor saying that I was better. Eventually the DVLA ‘gave up’ trying to get a report from my consultant and unbeknown to me wrote to my GP asking for a report. The GP filled out the form incorrectly and indicated that I was suffering ‘Unstable psychotic depression’. It was therefore not surprising that the DVLA revoked my driving license ‘out of the blue’, so far as I was concerned. I quickly obtained a copy of the report, visited my GP who immediately wrote to the DVLA informing them that I was better. I went back to the consultant who admitted her failings with regard to not filling out the form, and we filled it out again; this time it stated that I was ‘ Very well, stable and had suffered moderate depression’. Part of the form asks for alcohol consumption. She wrote on the form 1.5 bottles of wine over the weekend with nothing during the week. This was sent off to the DVLA who then turned around and sent out another form asking for more information about my alcohol consumption. My GP was also requested to provide details. Now this is where it gets insidious. The DVLA is these days eager to ensure that nobody who *might* present a danger has a driving license. The widely held belief in the UK (and I believe most parts of the world) is that you *must not* drive whilst under the influence of alcohol. I have never drunk driven and my license was (until it was erroneously revoked) absolutely clean. The DVLA can however make enquiries into your alcohol consumption and (amongst other things) are looking for:- ‘ALCOHOL MISUSE Persistent alcohol misuse, confirmed by medical enquiry and/or by evidence of otherwise unexplained abnormal blood markers, requires licence revocation or refusal until a minimum six month period of controlled drinking or abstinence has been attained, with normalisation of blood parameters.’ What this essentially means is that if you consume alcohol at a rate they consider ‘misuse’ then they can ban you – without you ever having had drink driven. The blood tests they refer to actually measure alcohol consumption within the past month. If a person consumes 7 units of alcohol per day, say between 6pm and 10pm, they will be ‘clear’ by 3am the next morning at the absolute very latest. However, such ‘persistent misuse’ would flag up on a blood test that the DVLA carries out. So, suddenly it’s not so much whether or not you drink drive, but rather what you choose to do in your free time *which does not affect your ability to drive*. Call it social profiling if you like. But possibly the most disturbing aspect of this all, is that a very high percentage of the driving population would ‘fall foul’ of the definition of ‘misuse’ whilst innocently believing they are within their remit to drive. However, they do not come to the attention of the DVLA unless they commit a drink driving offence or start certain medications. Valium is one (which surprised me). I’m not advocating that people who are suffering severe mental illnesses or have a substance abuse problem should be permitted to drive. What I am saying is that the DVLA can make you lose your license in a most underhand way, as a result of you coming to their attention whilst the rest of the country continues to, effectively, be breaking the ‘health requirements’ to drive. This is what has happened to me. I was free from depression, and when they first advised me that my license was revoked, I thought it would all be cleared up quickly. Not so. It has now been six weeks and my depression has returned quite severely as a result of not being able carry out those normal daily tasks I used to. I am housebound in a rural area and now rely upon my wife to do everything from shopping to taking and collecting the children from school. My alcohol consumption is a lot less than the ‘average’ British person, but I suspect that a blood test would be construed as ‘misuse’. So, the only way out is to abstain for at least a month before a blood test. They then grant a license and then you’re able to resume drinking at a rate they would consider ‘misuse’ whilst at the same time not committing any offence. The whole concept is an absolute joke. For example, one of the questions on the form is ‘When did you last drink?’ followed by ‘How much did you drink on that occasion?’. Ok. I could fill in the form ‘Five days ago’ & ‘One small beer’, thereby hiding the fact (potentially) that six days ago I drank a whole bottle of vodka!!! In summary, my advice to anybody in the UK is 1) Check with your doctor whether or not any medication you are prescribed requires you to notify the DVLA. 2) Tell your consultant and doctor that you want to be present when they fill out any DVLA forms. Take copies of what they provide. 3) Consider very carefully how you drink. As far as the DVLA is concerned, drinking 8 units every day of the week (male) is ‘less worse’ than drinking 9 units one day of the week only. (They call that binge drinking and flags you up as high risk!!!!). One of the forms asks you on how many occasions in the past year have you drunk more than 8 units. Would you be happy replying ‘52’? Losing your license can severely impact your life despite your best efforts and can make your depression worse as you contemplate the injustice of it all.