There has always been much confusion over the rules governing licensing and insurance for riders with disabilities, hopefully these articles will go some way to dispelling some of the myths and easing some unnecessary worry.
Do disabled people have to take a ‘special test’ to get a full bike licence?
The simple answer is no they don't. By and large disabled people take the same training and test as able-bodied riders, though there are a few 'dispensations' available to those disabled people who may have difficulty with certain aspects of the test due to the nature of their disabilities.
There are also provisions made for deaf and hearing-impaired riders who cannot take the normal 'pursuit' style test due to being unable to hear the instructions given by the examiner.
Occasionally a minor aspect of the test may be given some leeway to accommodate a disability, for instance; it may be that your disability would not allow you to perform the part of the test where you have to push the bike around 180 degrees without using the engine. This is usually done with the rider walking beside the bike and pushing it, but it is permissible for disabled riders to perform this manoeuvre while sitting astride the machine.
For advice on any aspect of the test that you feel may be affected by your disability you can contact the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) via http://www.gov.uk/contact-dvsa/
Do you have to inform the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) if you become disabled or chronically ill?
The simple answer is, if that disability or illness (or any drugs you are taking for it) affects your ability to ride or drive a standard none-adapted vehicle; or affects your ability to operate any standard controls efficiently and safely; then yes, you must inform the DVLA.
Failure to do so could leave you open to prosecution and will almost certainly invalidate your insurance. (We all know how insurance companies will find any available excuse to refuse to pay out if there is a claim).
For further information and a list of notifiable disabilities, illnesses and/or health conditions see: http://www.gov.uk/health-conditions-and-driving
For further information on which prescription drugs you must notify the DVLA about, see: http://www.gov.uk/drug-driving-law
Quite naturally people worry about their licence being revoked if they notify the DVLA about a disability, but the good news is that the DVLA are far more enlightened nowadays than they were in the early 1990’s (thanks to the work of the NABD over the years).
For the majority of disabilities it is extremely unlikely that the DVLA would revoke your licence, though there are some notable exceptions, such as epilepsy, severe problems with vision, and illnesses and injuries which badly affect motor control (that is motor as in motor reflex not motor cycle ....or maybe it depends on how you look at it) or cause severe cognitive issues (such as the inability to make decisions or to anticipate problems while riding).
In the case of amputations, brachial plexus injuries, paraplegiacs and such like, it would be rare for a licence to be revoked.
There is a common misconception that the DVLA will demand you take a re-test, this is utter nonsense. In certain cases they may require an assessment of your ability to use an adapted control set-up (these assessments are often carried out by the NABD Chairman and there are rarely more than one or two per year).
The common outcome of informing the DVLA of a disability is that they will add a code (or several codes) to your licence relating the any adaptations that are necessary to suit the nature of your disability.
To notify the DVLA Medical Group about a disability, illness or health condition, download this form, print it off, fill it in and send it off to them (see address below).
NB. Do not send your licence in with the form; they will let you know if they need it. If you are asked to send it in make sure you keep a photocopy or scan of both sides.
In those rare cases where a licence is revoked or suspended, there is a system in place for applying to have it reinstated.
For further information see: https://www.gov.uk/reapply-driving-licence-medical-condition
In certain cases where you cannot come to agreement with the DVLA over your fitness to ride/drive the NABD may be able to make representations to the DVLA on your behalf, but we would only do this if there were significant medical opinion that the your condition would not affect your safety or that of other road users.
Contacting the DVLA Medical Group:
Drivers Medical Group, DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1DL.
Telephone: 0870 600 0301 (Monday to Friday, 8.15am to 4.30pm)
Fax: 0845 850 0095
How do I regain a motorcycle licence that was revoked in the past?
If you are one of the unfortunate people who had your motorcycle licence revoked due to disability in less enlightened days, it may now be possible to get it reinstated without too much fuss (recently people whose licences were revoked as far back as 1972 have successfully regained their motorcycle entitlement).
What you need to do is contact the DVLA in writing and request that your motorcycle entitlement be reinstated. If you still have a car licence, quote the driver number as this will help them find your records easier. Either way, give them as much detail as you can to help them track your records down. Name, date of birth, when and why your licence was revoked, address at that time if different from now, and anything else you can think of to make it easier. If it was revoked before 1972, don't hold your breath, as there seems to be a problem with some of the records before then.
The NABD strongly recommend to anybody regaining a licence, who has not ridden for some time, is that they take at least a one-day refresher course with a reputable rider training school. Not only will it help to shake the cobwebs off your riding ability, it will do your confidence the world of good.
Can people with disabilities get help with CBT, on-road training and/or tests?
The NABD has a small fleet of ready adapted 'learner legal' 125cc motorcycles to suit various common disabilities. These are loaned to disabled people who wish to undergo CBT and/or on-road training and/or tests. There is no charge made for the loan of a ‘learner/loaner’ motorcycle but there is a single charge of £150.00 to cover delivery and collection.
See the Learner/Loaner Scheme page for further information