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Alcohol dependence and driving: knowledge of DVLA regulations

  • Andrew Collier (a1), Maggie Watts (a2), Sujoy Ghosh (a1), Peter Rice (a3) and Neil Dewhurst (a4)...
Abstract
Aims and Methods

The UK's Driver Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) requires individuals to report if they have a medical condition such as alcohol dependence. General Medical Council guidance indicates that medical practitioners should ensure patients are aware of their impairment and requirement to notify the DVLA.

Results

In a survey of 246 people with known alcohol dependence, none were aware of advice on driving given by medical practitioners and none had self-reported. In addition, 362 doctors, either attending a college symposium or visiting a college website, were asked about their knowledge of DVLA regulations regarding alcohol dependence: 73% of those attending the symposium and 63% of those visiting the website answered incorrectly. In Scotland, over 20000 people have alcohol dependence (over 1 million people with alcohol abuse), yet only 2548 people with alcohol problems self-reported to the DVLA in 2011.

Clinical implications

If the DVLA regulations were implemented, it could make an enormous difference to the behaviours of the driving public.

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Copyright
This is an open-access article published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
Correspondence to Andrew Collier (andrew.collier@aaaht.scot.nhs.uk)
Footnotes
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Declaration of interest

None.

Footnotes
References
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 2056-4694
  • EISSN: 2056-4708
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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Alcohol dependence and driving: knowledge of DVLA regulations

  • Andrew Collier (a1), Maggie Watts (a2), Sujoy Ghosh (a1), Peter Rice (a3) and Neil Dewhurst (a4)...
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eLetters

Alcohol dependence and implications of GMC guidance and DVLA regulations.

David Johnson, Consultant Psychiatrist Addictions, Argyll and Bute Addiction Team, Argyll and Bute Hospital
David M Greenwell, PhD, RMN, (none)
19 June 2015

Collier et al suggest that doctors may be reluctant to raise the issue of driving in case this becomes a disincentive for patients to be open about their drinking (1). A smaller survey conducted in an alcohol problem clinic setting suggested that people would be less likely to seek treatment or would stop attending clinics if they believed that doctors had a duty to inform the DVLA in certain circumstances (2). However, individuals referred to specialist addiction services are often seen by nurses rather than doctors, and the Nursing and Midwifery Council, unlike the General Medical Council (GMC), have produced no specific guidance for their members on this matter, which may make nurses even more reluctant to raise the issue.

In fact, the GMC guidance referred to by Collier et al states that “…they (the DVLA) need to know if a driving licence holder has a condition or is undergoing treatment that may now, or in the future, affect their safety as a driver.” (3). The recent survey suggests that during alcohol detoxification advice to patients who are licence holders to contact the DVLA is seldom given or remembered. This places doctors who have any contact with such patients in the following 12 months in a difficult position. An alcohol dependent individual who has completed an alcohol detoxification within the previous 12 months, and who has been successful in remaining abstinent, still merits an ICD 10 diagnosis of F10.20, and must also be advised to contact the DVLA (who will revoke their licence for a year from the date of the completed detoxification). The revocation of a licence under these circumstances may of course have severe implications upon an individual’s recovery and their engagement with doctors working in either primary or secondary care services.

References:

1. Collier A, Watts M, Ghosh S, Rice P, Dewhurst N. Alcohol dependence and driving: knowledge of DVLA regulations. BJPsych Bulletin 2015; 39: 35-38.

2. Culshaw M, Wootton L, Wylie S. Alcohol dependence and driving: a survey of patients’ knowledge of DVLA regulations and possible clinical implications. Psychiatric Bulletin 2005; 29: 90-93.

3. General Medical Council. Confidentiality: Reporting Concerns About Patients to the DVLA. GMC, 2009.

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Conflict of interest: None Declared

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