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DVLA nightmare in lockdown

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I had a minor stroke in November 2019 which resulted in a small visual defect in the lower right hand quadrant of my right eye. there were no other consequences fortunately. I didn't drive for the mandatory 6 weeks and was signed off by the stroke consultant who had put me on to anticoagulants, at the same time. I reported the situation to the DVLA who sent me for a visual field test at Specsavers at the end of January. I was a little nervous doing the test, but when I asked the technician at the end how I had done, all she would say "as we expected". I took this (wrongly) to be reassuring.


I was then very shocked afterwards to receive the letter from the DVLA advising me that I had failed to meet the required standards and my licence was revoked. No detail was given of exactly how i had failed the test. I immediately arranged a visual field test with my own optician which showed some vision loss in the lower right hand quadrant as expected, but full vision elsewhere, as well as in the centre of my field of vision. 


I then wrote in mid February to the DVLA enclosing my field test copy and asking what precisely was the reason for my failure. On 10th March I received their reply which stated they had reviewed the new evidence i had provided (!) and I was now free to apply for my licence. I replied by return of post enclosing a full licence application.

Then lockdown happened, the DVLA went into hibernation and were effectively cut-off to the world with their incoming phonelines barred. My attempts to find out what was happening were fruitless. 


On July 1st (14 weeks later) the DVLA replied saying that they had made a mistake, I wasn't free to reapply for my licence, contrary to what they advised,  and they returned my cancelled licence application!!!. They did state this time that I had failed the test because of too many false positive errors (>20%) and had the grace to enclose a copy of the original Specsavers test.


I immediately replied with the copy of a second private field test with a low number of false positives. A further 7 weeks later the DVLA replied saying this test failed, but again without giving any detail of the reason.


I have now had another field test done at my optician, now they are open again, and fortunately this now shows that my visual defect has improved over time. i have just submitted this new test to the DVLA with (foolish) new hope in my heart.


Of course the pandemic has slowed all bureaucratic processes down, but the DVLA seem to have used the opportunity to become even less helpful. Furthermore their failure/reluctance to clarify the details of the reasons for failing my test each time have slowed me down and frustrated me in equal measure.  Never mind the fact that they made a mistake and added 4 months delay to the already unsatisfactory process.


In 6 weeks time it will be the anniversary of my stroke. My condition is stable and has improved over time. I have good vision in both eyes and no physical impairment. So it seems to me that the "exceptional case application" route might prove more successful than the unsuccessful dialogue I am engaged in. I phoned up the DVLA to discuss this option and enquire whether I can submit an application now in advance of the anniversary, in light of the current delay situation. The advisor told me that I had to wait until November and in any case I should submit the new evidence now.


I would welcome any comments or advice that people have please!

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Hi John, sorry to hear about your problems but good news that you're recovering well. My own experience getting back my licence after voluntarily handing it in was a bit similar with delays and excuses. I think that in the main DLVA use external medical consultants and these meet only sporadically so decisions are a long time coming.


I was relatively lucky only waiting for 3 months after re-applying for return of the licence and at the time I was getting quite annoyed. Looking back, I now believe that they were right to keep me waiting as although I don't think my driving is impaired, I found I tired very quickly and had to take more stops than before.


Although it might seem harsh and frustrating now, in a few months time you might well reflect that it's not so bad after all.

Good Luck with your negotiations


John (another one...)

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Sorry to hear of the trauma's you have been experiencing with the DVLA. It is not a surprise though as you will realise that the Covid pandemic has caused all sorts of problems. 


My understanding is that under the 'exceptional case' rules, you can get your licence back if you can show (by obtaining an Esterman Test - which you had at Specsavers) that your vision has improved and is no longer an issue. I imagine that if you have such evidence you should submit it now (as they say). It will still take some time for them to review it and get back to you but at least it will show them that your vision has improved. Whether or not it has improved enough, only DVLA can say. Their system, their rules I'm afraid.


I posted much information about this in the thread here called 'Quadrantanopia' (which, it seems, is what you are suffering from - as was I). I feel that reading this and looking at my posts where I attached copies of letters and Esterman test results, could inform you a great deal more than trying to deal with the DVLA on the phone. 


If, eventually, DVLA decide that you must apply via the exceptional case rules then all the information is there and you should receive a letter much like the one I got in 2016. Since you are almost at the end of the year since you had your stroke (you need to go a full year without another 'event' to reapply, as well as jumping through other hoops - all detailed in the DVLA letter) it seems to me that you are within reach of making a reapplication anyway.


Having said that, if the new tests show that you don't pass muster then the exceptional rule route requires you to have tests with opthalmic optician (of DVLA choice - local to you) and obtain reports etc about your eyesight and ability to cope without full vision. If it gets to that point we can obviously help guide you through it. 


Finally, I think that unless you are back to normal vision, the DVLA may well ask you to take a driving assessment. It is not like the original test that you took and involves more tests than just being on the road. Again, if this is the case, let us know and we can assist.


Good luck and keep spirits up. You will get your licence back but it will take time.



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