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Licensing & driving for disabled people

Driving with a disability
This information is relevant to people who drive with disabilities that affect their hands, arms, legs and spine. Disabilities may be caused by an amputation, an injury or a congenital defect. Disabilities can also result from medical conditions such as stroke, arthritis or multiple sclerosis. So a person with a disability refers to anyone with physical limitations, regardless of the cause.

Driving with a temporary physical disability
Disabilities such as a broken arm or leg may not prevent you from driving, but you need to make sure that you are able to drive safely. For example, even if you are permitted to use the affected limb, a plaster cast may make it difficult for you to control a vehicle. Seek your doctor’s advice on whether you should drive and how the cast will affect your ability to operate the vehicle’s controls.

Driving with a permanent physical disability
Most people with a physical disability can be issued with a driver licence, andthose who had a licence before they acquired a disability can usually continue to drive. A person with a physical disability can drive if they are assessed as being safe to drive.

To obtain a learner permit or a driver licence, a person with a disability is required to meet the same requirements as a person who has no disability.

However, a person with a disability will need to provide a medical report that provides information to VicRoads on the nature and extent of the disability, and to ensure that there are no other medical concerns that may prevent the person from driving safely. The medical report should be sent to:

VicRoads Medical Review
PO Box 2504
Kew 3101

Some examples of disabilities and how they are managed include:

impairment to, or loss of, foot or leg. The driver needs to show that they can reach and safely operate all foot controls such as brake, clutch and accelerator pedals. Pedals can be modified or altered if required. When neither leg can be used, hand controls are required.
impairment to, or loss of, hand or arm. The driver needs to show that they can reach and operate all hand controls, grip the steering wheel and turn it through the full range of movement. Driving a car with manual transmission requires both arms. A driver with one arm may be able to drive a car with automatic transmission provided they can reach and operate all controls. A steering aid on the steering wheel may be required, and power steering may be necessary.
reduced neck movement. Additional mirrors can enable the driver to view the side and rear of the vehicle and surrounding traffic.

VicRoads may also require you to have an Occupational Therapy Driver Assessment to determine your fitness to drive.
Licensing
How to apply for a learner permit
To apply for a learner permit, you must be at least 16 years of age if you intend to drive a car, and 18 years if you intend to ride a motorcycle.

You will have to complete a learner permit application in which you must notify VicRoads of any serious or chronic medical condition or disability which may affect your fitness to drive. It is an offence not to disclose this information.

VicRoads will give you a medical report form for your doctor to complete. This form can also be downloaded from VicRoads website.

The learner period allows you to try various adaptive equipment to determine what best suits your condition.

For more information about how to get your learner permit see ‘Get your Ls’.

How to apply for a probationary driver licence
To apply for a probationary driver licence in Victoria, you must be at least 18 years of age and have held your learner permit for a minimum period of time.

If you obtained your learner permit before 1 July 2007 you will need to hold it for six months if you are under 25 years of age when you apply for your licence, and for three months if you are 25 years of age or older.

If you obtained your learner permit on or after 1 July 2007 and you are under 21 years when you apply for your licence you must hold it for 12 months, and you must also obtain 120 hours of supervised driving experience, including 10 hours at night. If you are aged between 21 and 24 years when you apply for your licence the learner permit must be held for six months. If you are 25 years and over when you apply for your licence, the learner permit must be held for three months.

All licence applicants have to undertake a Hazard Perception Test and an on-road test.

You will have to complete a driver licence application in which you must notify VicRoads of any serious or chronic medical condition or disability which may affect your fitness to drive. It is an offence not to disclose this information.

VicRoads will give you a medical report form for your doctor to complete. This form can also be downloaded from VicRoads website.

When you obtain your licence, it will be annotated to show any modifications required for your vehicle, or motorcycle, so that you can drive it legally.

For more information about applying for your driver licence see ‘Get your Ps’.

Frequently asked questions
What if I develop a disability while holding a current learner permit?
If you develop a disability while you hold a learner permit, you will need to provide a medical report that provides information to VicRoads on the nature and extent of the disability, and to ensure that there are no other medical concerns that may prevent you from driving safely. This report should be sent to:

VicRoads Medical Review
PO Box 2504
Kew 3101

What if I develop a disability while holding a current driver licence?
If you develop a disability while you hold a probationary licence, or a full driver licence, you will need to provide a medical report that provides information to VicRoads on the nature and extent of the disability, and to ensure that there are no other medical concerns that may prevent you from driving safely. You will also have to be assessed to determine if you can drive safely with your disability.

This off-road assessment and on-road test is administered by an occupational therapist specialising in driver assessment. Occupational therapists are health professionals who assist people with physical or mental disabilities to resume normal daily activities.

If you require a list of occupational therapy driver assessors, please contact Medical Review.

Write in to request a copy:

VicRoads Medical Review
PO Box 2504
Kew 3101

Who pays for occupational therapy driver assessments?
In most cases, the cost must be met by the licence holder. However, If your disability is the result of a motor vehicle accident the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) may pay for the assessment.

Can I drive with vehicle modifications and prosthetic aids?
If you hold a current learner permit you may learn to drive any type of vehicle, including a modified vehicle.

If you hold a current driver licence and want to learn to drive a modified vehicle you must be accompanied by a driver with a non-probationary licence who has held their licence for two years or more. It is advisable to display a “Driver Under Instruction” plate on the vehicle. These plates are 15 cm x 15 cm with black writing on a yellow background.

As disabilities vary between people, modifications must be appropriate to meet the needs of the individual driver. Occupational therapists specializing in driver assessment can advise what modifications or aids you may need and where the vehicle modifications can be fitted.

Typical vehicle modifications include a spinner aid which is fitted to the steering wheel for drivers with an impairment to, or who have lost one arm, and left foot accelerators for those who have an impairment to, or who have lost, their right leg.

If you have a conditional licence related to the need for vehicle modifications you will only be able to legally drive a car or motorcycle with the modifications that are designed to accommodate your disability.

Unless you have workers compensation insurance or TAC insurance you will have to pay for the cost of any modifications made to your car or motorcycle.

How can I get a Disabled Parking Permit?
You will need to apply to your local council for a Disabled Parking Permit. If you are eligible you will be issued with a parking permit to allow you to park in spaces reserved for disabled motorists and in other parking bays for a longer period of time, provided the initial parking fee is paid.

You must display this permit whenever you park in a disabled parking area or any other parking area.

See Victoria’s disabled persons parking scheme for further information.

What if my disability improves?
If your physical disability improves you can have your situation reviewed by VicRoads Medical Review. If appropriate, the modifications to your vehicle, and the information on your learner permit or driver licence can be removed or updated.

Which other medical conditions may affect safe driving?
Diabetes, heart disease, seizures, poor vision, psychiatric disorders, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, sleep apnoea and multiple sclerosis are examples of medical conditionals that may affect safe driving.

People with such medical conditions are required to provide a medical report before VicRoads can issue a learner permit or driver licence.

Who can I contact for more information?
The Disabled Motorists’ Australia can provide disabled drivers and riders with advice and assistance about driving with a disability. Call VicRoads Medical Review on Tel: 13 11 71.

The RACV has a free publication “Keeping mobile – vehicle modifications for drivers and passengers with a disability.” Contact the RACV on Tel: (03) 9790 2190 for a copy.