Driving with an ICD

People who have a defibrillator implanted must not drive until they have fulfilled the criteria laid down by the Medical Group at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).  These are set out below.

After you have had your operation you are required by law to notify the DVLA of your condition and they will write asking for you to return your licence to them.  They will tell you that you can apply for re-instatement of your licence according to the rules below.

It is wise to discuss driving with your G.P. and your Hospital Consultant before you apply because they will be asked about you before the DVLA decides whether or not to give your licence back.  If your cardiologist states that you are not fit to drive then the driving ban will remain until he alters his opinion.

Recommendations of the Cardiac Panel at the DVLA

Driving may occur when the following criteria can be met:-

1        The first device has been implanted for at least six months.

2       The device has not administered therapy (shock and / or symptomatic anti-tachycardial pacing) within the last six months (except during formal clinical testing).

3       Since the implantation of the defibrillator, neither the heart rhythm nor treatment by the defibrillator has caused incapacity.  If incapacity has occurred, licensing will be debarred for a minimum 2 year period from the date of the event unless the underlying cause has been identified and controlled.  Restoration of the licence thereafter is at the discretion of the DVLA.

4       A period of one month off driving must occur following any revision of the device (generator and / or electrodes) or alteration of anti-arrhythmic drug treatment.

5        The device is subject to regular review with interrogation.

6        There must be no other disqualifying condition.

The licence may be subject to annual review.

Prophylactic ICD Implant

In this situation, the device has been implanted in an individual considered to be at increased risk of significant arrhythmia as a result of relevant family history or other condition, but prior to implantation a significant arrhythmia has not occurred.

CAVEAT – If a symptomatic arrhythmia has occurred 5 years or more prior to the ICD implantation without recurrence, then the ICD is regarded as a prophylactic implant.

Following implantation, driving must cease for one month and may re-commence thereafter subject to satisfactory out-patient review.  DVLA need not be notified.

If the ICD then fires, the usual ICD rules apply and you must tell the DVLA.
This is a legal requirement – see Web site:

Licence Renewal

All licences issued to ICD users are now of unrestricted duration and do not need annual renewal except when the normal requirements of the law regarding age apply.

If you are awaiting renewal under the previous regulations, your new licence will be of unrestricted duration provided you remain under regular review and sign an agreement to do so (see below).  If renewal is delayed the DVLA have assured members that they can continue driving beyond a year if their application is still being processed (Section 88 of the Road Traffic Act).

It is best to apply at least six weeks before your licence is due for renewal.  Normally you should be sent a form for this about that time, but if you don’t receive one, send in a form D1 at that time.

N.B.   YOU MUST NOT DRIVE IF YOUR DOCTOR HAS FORBIDDEN IT   even if you have a valid licence or are awaiting annual renewal.

Re-Applying for your licence

If you feel you fit these criteria then you can apply for restoration of your licence or for your first licence if you have not had one before.  The DVLA will contact your consultant before deciding to act, so the best way to go about it would be to ask him or her whether they agree that you fulfil all the guidelines before you ask the DVLA.

You should then obtain form D1 from the Post Office, complete it, and send it to the DVLA.  Also send in a form D750 if you have not had a photocard licence before.  They will send you a form to get your permission to consult your doctors.

If you are refused a licence, you do have a right of appeal.

Whilst the Sutton ICD Support Group makes every effort to ensure accurate information,
we disclaim any legal responsibility for actions as a result of the contents of this page.