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Desperately need advice - "Alcohol Misuse"

Moz1812

Member
I have had lifelong sleep problems, ever since I was a kid, and recently they got worse, so I went to the doctors last friday. She diagnosed potential sleep apnoea, pending a referral to a sleep clinic.

However, whilst there, they asked all the usual questions, "Do you smoke/drink?" etc. I answered them all honestly. I told her i drink 3-5 330ml (1/2 size) cans of craft beer on an evening after work, about 4 nights I week. I dont drink every day, and never more than 3-5 330m cans (very rarely 5, most often 3). I just see it as way to relax, I dont really think thats an "excessive" level of drinking on an evening. (I will also note that I know for a FACT that I have NEVER driven on a morning whilst over the limit, as I have a breathalyser and always use it, even if I've only had 2 or 3 cans the night before. My dad always taught me it was good practice.) They also asked all the other alcohol-related questions: "Do you drink first thing in the morning or during the day?" (No), "Do you ever feel that you need a drink to get through the day?" (No), "Have you ever got so drunk you've endangered yourself or others? (No), "Have you ever been unable to go to work or perform your responsibilities due to alcohol?" (No). Again I answered all these honestly. All seemed fine.

However, about an hour after my appointment, I got a phonecall from the doctor telling me my levels of drinking where "dangerously high," and that she was adding alcohol misuse to my medical record, and that I must inform the DVLA immediately. Losing my licence, even for only 6 months, isn't an option for me, as I will lose my job. I assumed there must have been a terrible mistake, so I rang the doctors and asked for a second opinion. The other doctor I spoke to basically said she couldnt overturn what another doctor had said, and I need to speak to the DVLA. Today, I received a letter from the doctors basically outlining all this, and again telling me I need to inform the DVLA.

I haven't yet informed the DVLA, but I've also been off work, so I've refrained from driving at all. But what do I do? If I inform them, they will suspend my licence for a minimum 6 months. However, what the doctor said on friday scared me so much that I havent had a single alcoholic drink since then, so any blood test would show 0 alcohol in my bloodstream (It would have on any normal day anyway, due to how little I drink). Would I still be liable for prosecution for driving whilst diagnosed with alcohol misuse, even though any reading would show that I have 0 alcohol in my system?

Thanks in advance for the advice guys.
 
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price1367

TTC Group
What you have to consider is that if you are diagnosed with sleep apnoea then that is something that should be disclosed to DVLA as well.


if you do not inform DVLA about the alcohol being diagnosed as misuse (they may be considering the alcohol coupled with the sleeping problems) then it is likely that your doctor will Inform them anyway. GP’s guidance is to encourage the patient to disclose to DVLA but act themselves if the patient fails to act on the advice.
 

Moz1812

Member
I understand I would have to disclose sleep apnoea anyway, but at the moment that is undiagnosed, merely suspected. I am awaiting an appointment at a sleep clinic. My doctor made it clear that my need to inform the DVLA is based SOLELY upon alcohol misuse, and nothing to do with sleep apnoea.

Am I still liable to prosecution merely for not informing them yet, even though I haven't actually driven since my appointment? Or does this only apply if I am actually still driving? I've managed to sort transport for the next 2 weeks, so I won't be driving any time soon. And what happens if I am caught driving, yet show a 0 blood alcohol level on a breathalyser or blood test?
 

price1367

TTC Group
More important try, what happens if you do drive and have an accident, then it comes out that you have ignored the “advice” to tell DVLA?
As I said, the advice is “tell DVLA or I will”.
I think you need to stop finding g excuses and get on with telling DVLA. “Only advised to tell them about drinking, not actually diagnosed with a sleep disorder, only suspected”
If you do have sleep apnoea you will have to tell them anyway. If you delay telling them for weeks, then it will be weeks added on to the end of the review period when you might need a driving licence even more.
 

topchippyles

Well-known member
Honesty is not always the best policy is it ?? Price you will no doubt be on the correct side of the law and doctor but still see some harsh things on here by people just being honest. Just a little unfair as times is my point.
 

Moz1812

Member
More important try, what happens if you do drive and have an accident, then it comes out that you have ignored the “advice” to tell DVLA?
As I said, the advice is “tell DVLA or I will”.
I think you need to stop finding g excuses and get on with telling DVLA. “Only advised to tell them about drinking, not actually diagnosed with a sleep disorder, only suspected”
If you do have sleep apnoea you will have to tell them anyway. If you delay telling them for weeks, then it will be weeks added on to the end of the review period when you might need a driving licence even more.
I don't mean to be rude, but you've kinda ignored the main question I've asked multiple times now. If you don't know the answer thats fine, but just say so.

As I said, I quit drinking the very day my doctor said this. That was 6 days ago, I haven't had a drink since. If I am not drinking AT ALL (as in, completely teetotal), then how can I be charged with an alcohol related driving offence if I am pulled over? Since any reading would be 0. Im asking if someone knows the legal standpoint of this. If people dont know, thats fine.
 

topchippyles

Well-known member
I don't mean to be rude, but you've kinda ignored the main question I've asked multiple times now. If you don't know the answer thats fine, but just say so.

As I said, I quit drinking the very day my doctor said this. That was 6 days ago, I haven't had a drink since. If I am not drinking AT ALL (as in, completely teetotal), then how can I be charged with an alcohol related driving offence if I am pulled over? Since any reading would be 0. Im asking if someone knows the legal standpoint of this. If people dont know, thats fine.
I suggest maybe changing your GP asap to avoid this and i mean asap today if possible. You could end up being stopped from driving for years over this mind. If no longer your doctor they have no right to contact the dvla.
 

Moz1812

Member
I suggest maybe changing your GP asap to avoid this and i mean asap today if possible. You could end up being stopped from driving for years over this mind. If no longer your doctor they have no right to contact the dvla.
I dont understand how that would help?
 

price1367

TTC Group
OK, I do know the answer, but I am not going to tell you!
that is because what you are asking is “If I ignore my doctor and refuse to tell DVLA where do I stand?” And I am saying “do NOT ignore your doctor because you would face severe problems if you caused an accident after ignoring what he said, especially coupled with the sleep problems you have admitted to (even though it is only ‘suspected“
Saying if you will or will not not be charged with an alcohol related offence is not your problem, it is other offences that you could be liable for And there is a safety issue you need to consider for other road users. You say you haven’t had a drink, which is good, but presumably you till have troubles with your sleeping? The guidance I pointed out before says

You can be fined up to £1,000 if you do not tell DVLA about a medical condition that affects your driving. You may be prosecuted if you’re involved in an accident as a result.
Ask your doctor if you’re not sure if your excessive sleepiness will affect your driving.”

But of course you cannot ask your doctor because he has already told you to tell DVLA about your drinking. How can you ask him about the sleep problems and driving because the answer will be obvious.......
 

price1367

TTC Group
Honesty is not always the best policy is it ?? Price you will no doubt be on the correct side of the law and doctor but still see some harsh things on here by people just being honest. Just a little unfair as times is my point.
I don't think it wrong to be on the side of road safety. Sometimes the best interests of an individual must be overridden for all the other road users. Being told by your GP that you need to self report to DVLA due to alcohol, (we only have the ops account, the GP will no doubt have the full picture) and admitting to years and years of sleep problems which are now getting worse means to me that Moz1812 should not be driving at present.
Advising to change doctors, and therefore delaying referral for treatment for a long time for the sleep disorder, just to avoid the doctor notifying DVLA when he should be doing it himself is not the best advice, it is just encouraging him to be selfish... but also shooting himself in the foot for the other treatment it seems that he needs.
 

topchippyles

Well-known member
OK, I do know the answer, but I am not going to tell you!
that is because what you are asking is “If I ignore my doctor and refuse to tell DVLA where do I stand?” And I am saying “do NOT ignore your doctor because you would face severe problems if you caused an accident after ignoring what he said, especially coupled with the sleep problems you have admitted to (even though it is only ‘suspected“
Saying if you will or will not not be charged with an alcohol related offence is not your problem, it is other offences that you could be liable for And there is a safety issue you need to consider for other road users. You say you haven’t had a drink, which is good, but presumably you till have troubles with your sleeping? The guidance I pointed out before says

You can be fined up to £1,000 if you do not tell DVLA about a medical condition that affects your driving. You may be prosecuted if you’re involved in an accident as a result.
Ask your doctor if you’re not sure if your excessive sleepiness will affect your driving.”

But of course you cannot ask your doctor because he has already told you to tell DVLA about your drinking. How can you ask him about the sleep problems and driving because the answer will be obvious.......
You are correct in what you have posted but missing 1 thing. This is not an alcohol issue and just for the record your GP will not inform the dvla. GP has stated that alcohol is misuse and dangerously which is simply not the case.Mixed with sleeping medication and other factors then yes i am totally in agreement. Moz you have been advised by your GP so use a common sense approach in what you decide but in no way on what you have posted does drink affect your ability to drive.
 

Moz1812

Member
I don't think it wrong to be on the side of road safety. Sometimes the best interests of an individual must be overridden for all the other road users. Being told by your GP that you need to self report to DVLA due to alcohol, (we only have the ops account, the GP will no doubt have the full picture) and admitting to years and years of sleep problems which are now getting worse means to me that Moz1812 should not be driving at present.
Advising to change doctors, and therefore delaying referral for treatment for a long time for the sleep disorder, just to avoid the doctor notifying DVLA when he should be doing it himself is not the best advice, it is just encouraging him to be selfish... but also shooting himself in the foot for the other treatment it seems that he needs.
I am not saying that I'm not going to notify the DVLA. If I have to, then I have to. Thats just the way it is, I guess.

I'm just trying to weigh up my options and see if there's a way to avoid this (by LEGAL means), before I go rushing off the to DVLA and have my licence suspended for a minimum of 6 months, which would effectively spell an end to my career, and which I can't reasonably afford.

If there really is no other option then I will inform them immediately, but I'm just trying to see where I stand.

These sleeping problems have been known to my doctors for decades, and the doctor has never considered me a risk before. (this is now a new doctor, it was my first time seeing her).

I will also point out that in 12 years of driving, I've never felt tired or sleepy at the wheel, I have never had a single collision or accident, never been charged with a single driving related offence, have 0 points on my licence, and and have never made an insurance claim. My driving record is completely unblemished. I realise this isnt directly relevant, and probably doesnt matter at all, but I honestly feel myself to be a safe driver.
 

topchippyles

Well-known member
I am not saying that I'm not going to notify the DVLA. If I have to, then I have to. Thats just the way it is, I guess.

I'm just trying to weigh up my options and see if there's a way to avoid this (by LEGAL means), before I go rushing off the to DVLA and have my licence suspended for a minimum of 6 months, which would effectively spell an end to my career, and which I can't reasonably afford.

If there really is no other option then I will inform them immediately, but I'm just trying to see where I stand.

These sleeping problems have been known to my doctors for decades, and the doctor has never considered me a risk before. (this is now a new doctor, it was my first time seeing her).

I will also point out that in 12 years of driving, I've never felt tired or sleepy at the wheel, I have never had a single collision or accident, never been charged with a single driving related offence, have 0 points on my licence, and and have never made an insurance claim. My driving record is completely unblemished. I realise this isnt directly relevant, and probably doesnt matter at all, but I honestly feel myself to be a safe driver.
You will regret informing the DVLA and have no legal requirement to do so (fact) and no matter what price says that is what it is. Its your choice and no matter what and how many times you keep asking that is the answer you posted looking for.
 

price1367

TTC Group
You will regret informing the DVLA and have no legal requirement to do so (fact) and no matter what price says that is what it is. Its your choice and no matter what and how many times you keep asking that is the answer you posted looking for.
Here are the Facts:

"You must tell DVLA if you have an alcohol problem.
You can be fined up to £1,000 if you don’t tell DVLA about a medical condition that affects your driving. You may be prosecuted if you’re involved in an accident as a result."


So not telling DVLA is fine if you are not going to be driving at all, but as soon as you are, then you face prosecution if you have an accident.
Also, no good changing doctors because the notes about misuse will still be on your medical notes. You could try having another discussion with your GP. He may have viewed your alcohol consumption (which although more than twice the recommended rates is not all that high) as a form of self medication for the sleep problems. Try to put it in context and see if he will amend what has been put in your notes. The problem is that because he has listed you as misusing alcohol then the presumption will be that it could affect your driving (although you seem to be taking sensible precautions with breath tests)
 

grice96

Well-known member
You will regret informing the DVLA and have no legal requirement to do so (fact) and no matter what price says that is what it is. Its your choice and no matter what and how many times you keep asking that is the answer you posted looking for.
This is terrible advice, a great way to land yourself with a £1000 fine and your insurance being nullified in the event of a crash for not informing the DVLA of a known medical condition.

When you have a crash where injuries are involved your insurance will not progress your claim until you give them permission to check your GP and Hospital records. They say this is to verify your injuries (that is a part of it) but it is also to check if you have any undeclared medical problems that can be used to get out of paying the first party claim and also opens up to you being prosecuted for driving without insurance as it is a clause in most insurance policies that you must immediately inform the DVLA of any health conditions. If your doctor has told you to report a health condition to the DVLA you can rest assured the doctor is going to report you in the coming weeks.

Admitting to drinking anything more than 14 units a week will get you revoked. If we take your 330ml beer cans as a Heineken then that has 1.7 units per can. 3 per night, 7 days per week is 35.7 units per week. This is 2.5x the limit the DVLA allow to hold a licence. This used to be 21 units a week but it is now 14. Consuming 35.7 units per week will also raise your LFT's, possibly not enough to be outside of the normal range but enough to notice. Changing GP now won't do any good, it's already been recorded.
 

topchippyles

Well-known member
Here are the Facts:

"You must tell DVLA if you have an alcohol problem.
You can be fined up to £1,000 if you don’t tell DVLA about a medical condition that affects your driving. You may be prosecuted if you’re involved in an accident as a result."


So not telling DVLA is fine if you are not going to be driving at all, but as soon as you are, then you face prosecution if you have an accident.
Also, no good changing doctors because the notes about misuse will still be on your medical notes. You could try having another discussion with your GP. He may have viewed your alcohol consumption (which although more than twice the recommended rates is not all that high) as a form of self medication for the sleep problems. Try to put it in context and see if he will amend what has been put in your notes. The problem is that because he has listed you as misusing alcohol then the presumption will be that it could affect your driving (although you seem to be taking sensible precautions with breath tests)
This is terrible advice, a great way to land yourself with a £1000 fine and your insurance being nullified in the event of a crash for not informing the DVLA of a known medical condition.

When you have a crash where injuries are involved your insurance will not progress your claim until you give them permission to check your GP and Hospital records. They say this is to verify your injuries (that is a part of it) but it is also to check if you have any undeclared medical problems that can be used to get out of paying the first party claim and also opens up to you being prosecuted for driving without insurance as it is a clause in most insurance policies that you must immediately inform the DVLA of any health conditions. If your doctor has told you to report a health condition to the DVLA you can rest assured the doctor is going to report you in the coming weeks.

Admitting to drinking anything more than 14 units a week will get you revoked. If we take your 330ml beer cans as a Heineken then that has 1.7 units per can. 3 per night, 7 days per week is 35.7 units per week. This is 2.5x the limit the DVLA allow to hold a licence. This used to be 21 units a week but it is now 14. Consuming 35.7 units per week will also raise your LFT's, possibly not enough to be outside of the normal range but enough to notice. Changing GP now won't do any good, it's already been recorded.
That is all you pair do is quote this and that.Guy has stated he has no alcohol issues and has never been convicted of anything. He has come here for advise and stated what i have read as face value. Anyone and every one exceeds at some point 14 units a week.This does not make that person who ever it is unfit to drive.The person in question is well within his rights to seek advise from another doctor from outside his current practice for a second opinion (FACT) I have never clashed with sound advise posted on this forum but on this occasion you are wrong. I have been down this route myself as the GP who stated i was drink dependent was found to be incorrect.
 

price1367

TTC Group
but you didn’t say get a second opinion. (Which will not alter what is on your medical record anyway,) your advice was “I suggest maybe changing your GP asap to avoid this and i mean asap today if possible.”
I have given the op best advice to see the GP who put down “misuse”and discuss it with to see if he will reconsider. Another opinion will not alter what is on the medical file, it needs to be corrected if possible.
I have taken the op at face value as well, his GP, knowing him and taking a history including his alcohol intake and sleep problems, has diagnosed alcohol abuse and said he should talk DVLA, he has told him verbally and now in writing. he can and should ask for this to be reviewed but sticking his head in the sand and “do nothing, will I be alright? will just store up problems for the future
 

grice96

Well-known member
That is all you pair do is quote this and that.Guy has stated he has no alcohol issues and has never been convicted of anything. He has come here for advise and stated what i have read as face value. Anyone and every one exceeds at some point 14 units a week.This does not make that person who ever it is unfit to drive.The person in question is well within his rights to seek advise from another doctor from outside his current practice for a second opinion (FACT) I have never clashed with sound advise posted on this forum but on this occasion you are wrong. I have been down this route myself as the GP who stated i was drink dependent was found to be incorrect.
OP came here looking for proper advice. Not to be told to lie, incriminate themselves and change their GP at the point where it's already on their medical history. His GP has deemed that he has an alcohol problem and part of the condition you AGREE to by holding a licence is that you will report any relevant medical conditions that you have been diagnosed with.(wether you agree with the diagnosis or not doesn't matter, until you have successfully challenged the diagnosis it is still an active diagnosis on your medical history.)

You're using your negative experience with your GP and the DVLA to pass on bad advice to another poster on this forum. There's a rule book, you follow it you get to keep your licence. You don't follow it you lose it, admitting to drinking 35.7 units per week is far outside what the DVLA consider acceptable drinking. OP speak to your GP face to face and try and put your case forward, I was diagnosed with alcohol dependence and while I couldn't get it removed from my medical history I was able to get the diagnosis changed to misuse which in turn made getting my licence back a lot easier. If you ignore this it won't go away, GP's report on almost all of the cases where they have recommended the patient contact the DVLA. My doctor informed the DVLA of my misuse but by the time he did it i had already lost my licence for DD.
 

Moz1812

Member
Ok, all points appreciated. If I ask to speak directly to the GP who put this on my medical record (who as I say, is a new doctor for me, it’s the first time I’ve met her), what’s the likelihood she will change her mind? Do doctors do that often? Also, considering I’ve already asked for a second opinion from another doctor at the same practice (when I assumed there had been some mistake and she basically said she wouldn’t overrule another doctor and there’s nothing she could do).

Secondly, when I do notify the DVLA, is at automatic 6 months suspension, or is there any chance they may review it and not suspend for that long?

(also, just a sidenote, I didn’t admit to drinking 35.7 units a weeks, I admitted it what works out as 20-25 units a week. And it wasn’t a false admission, it was the truth).
 
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price1367

TTC Group
I feel for you, as that is not much alcohol to be drinking albeit over the recommended limits
Make a few notes for the points you want to make to the GP and ask if she will consider taking off that magic word ‘Misuse”.
this is the relevant excerpt from the CMO guidance:

“On regular drinking
New weekly guideline [this applies for people who drink regularly or frequently i.e. most weeks].
The Chief Medical Officers’ guideline for both men and women is that:
• You are safest not to drink regularly more than 14 units per week, to keep health risks from drinking alcohol to a low level.
• If you do drink as much as 14 units per week, it is best to spread this evenly over 3 days or more. If you have one or two heavy drinking sessions, you increase your risks of death from long term illnesses and from accidents and injuries.
• The risk of developing a range of illnesses (including, for example, cancers of the mouth, throat and breast) increases with any amount you drink on a regular basis.
• If you wish to cut down the amount you’re drinking, a good way to help achieve this is to have several drink-free days each week.”


Note that is does NOT actually say to not drink more than 14 units per week, it says it is safest to not drink REGULARLY more than 14 units..... How long have you been drinking that amount? Is it a relatively recent thing?

Have a look at the cans that you drink. They will probably say the alcohol content in units. If it doesn’t, put the ABV on here and I can work it out for you. Try to be more specific about how many cans you drink. If you say 3-5 cans per day it will be taken as 5. Show that you understand what units are.

Point out that you do not drink every day, so do follow the Guidelines on that, and that you have not drunk alcohol at all since the issue was pointed out.

Point out that up until 5 years ago the guidance was 21 units per week for a female and 28 per week for a male, and your drinking is within those guidelines.

Say about the breath test machine that you have to demonstrate how you ensured that your drinking did not affect your ability to drive.

Ask to have a Liver Function Test carried out (Blood sample) to show that your liver is in good order.

Ask the doctor to reconsider the word misuse and the need to tell DVLA. Perhaps the doctor could record ‘misinformed’ rather then ‘misuse’.

Lastly, point out the effect that being classed as misusing alcohol will have on you, your job and therefore your health (physical and mental) and ask if it would not be better for you to have ongoing check to see that you are sticking to the recommended limits... or even better that you are not drinking at all. (You may have felt that alcohol helped you relax but in reality it will NOT have helped with your sleep problem and may well have made it worse)

I am pleased that you are adopting a positive approach to dealing with this problem. I gave you some stick when you first posted because your approach seemed to be “how can I cheat this?” But I am happy to help you deal with it in a positive way.

Lastly (again) to deal with your question, if you have to inform DVLA of alcohol misuse it is almost certain that they would write to say that your licence has been revoked for 6 months for you to show that you have controlled your drinking.

Let us know how you get on.

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