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Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA)

Can I drive if I have OSA?

If you have OSA, it can leave you drowsy and tired during the day so your ability to drive safely is affected. On this page, we explain the rules around driving if you suspect you might have OSA, or if you have an OSA diagnosis.

If you’re sleepy, you’re less alert and react more slowly. Your judgment and vision are affected, and you can’t concentrate as well. Your mood might be altered, and you may become more aggressive behind the wheel. These problems increase if you’re driving at night.

Driving with OSA

Your doctor will suggest you stop driving if you’re so drowsy that it’s likely to have an adverse effect on your driving – whatever the reason.

If your job means you have to drive, you might be able to get assessed for OSA and treated more quickly. Many sleep clinics provide a fast-track service for people who drive for a living, so your work is disrupted as little as possible.

When must I tell the DVLA?

If you hold a current driving licence of any type you must tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) (or Driver and Vehicle Agency in Northern Ireland) if you are diagnosed with a condition that causes sleepiness. You can tell the DVLA online but would need to ring the DVA. You can be fined up to £1,000 if you do not tell the agencies about a medical condition that affects your driving.

It may take the DVLA or DVA some time to complete its enquiries. While you wait, you should speak to your doctor or specialist about driving.

When can I drive again?

Once car or motorcycle driving licence holders are being successfully treated for OSA, they will be able to drive safely again. This may be reviewed every three years by a sleep specialist. This also applies to bus, coach or lorry driving licence holders. But these drivers will be assessed more regularly, usually every year, by a sleep specialist.

Sleep Apnoea Trust has more detailed information on driving if you have OSA.

Next: Holidays and travel if you have OSA

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Last medically reviewed: November 2021. Due for review: November 2024

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.