The Department is considering whether to extend the maximum period for driving licences restricted on medical grounds beyond three years, where the medical condition is suitable for this longer review period. Each case would be assessed individually and on its own merits, thus minimising any road safety risk. An amendment to Article 15(1)(c) of the Road Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 could allow for this increased flexibility.
The Department does not wish to restrict the proposed change in validity periods to any one medical condition and would want, where expert medical opinion and EU law permits, to allow longer review period licences for any suitable medical condition.
The existing legislation impacts the DVA’s ability to provide a fast and responsive service, and places an increased burden on the individual driver who must re-apply for a licence and be assessed at regular intervals, leading to a burden also on medical practitioners who have to complete questionnaires on their patients to enable the DVA to make licensing decisions.
The existing procedures do not take into account the fact that chronic health problems are likely to be the subject of regular review by the driver’s doctor or other health professional. These regular reviews present opportunities for driving fitness to be reviewed and discussed. Most drivers engage with this process and take a responsible attitude towards any deterioration of their condition and the need to notify the DVA of changes to their condition.