Sleep Apnoea – New Minimum Medical Standards

Sep 13 | 2016

Changes to EU legislation providing new minimum medical standards for drivers with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) and Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome (OSAS) came into force in Great Britain on 31 December, 2015. Here, Heather Lunney from Backhouse Jones Solicitors explains.

What is OSA and OSAS?  

OSA is a condition which affects approximately 5% of the population. It affects breathing whilst the sufferer is sleeping due to partial or total closure of the airway behind the tongue. It disrupts normal sleeping patterns, causes the body to briefly wake up to restore normal breathing, may prevent a good night’s rest and is nearly always accompanied by loud snoring.  

OSAS is a more severe form of OSA. It includes both disruptive breathing whilst the sufferer is sleeping and symptoms of excessive sleepiness in the daytime.   

Minimum medical standards: OSA  

  • Drivers with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) (not OSAS) do not need to notify DVLA unless they have symptoms (e.g. daytime sleepiness) that would affect their ability to drive safely. 

Minimum medical standards: OSAS 

  • OSAS is specifically identified as a notifiable medical condition.  

  • Drivers with OSAS must inform DVLA by letter, phone or email at the point of diagnosis or recognition of symptoms.  

  • The driver must stop driving completely until their condition has been successfully treated.  

  • Treatment is widely effective but medical enquiries will be undertaken by DVLA.   

The DVLA’s requirements for Group 1 and Group 2 drivers are: 

  • Cars and motorcycles (Group 1 entitlement) – driving must stop if there is OSAS and symptoms including excessive sleepiness severe enough to likely impair safe driving. Driving will be permitted once satisfactory control of the symptoms has been achieved. 

  • Lorries and buses (Group 2 entitlement) – as above but drivers must also comply with the treatment specified and be confirmed to the DVLA by the consultant/specialist. 


Heather Lunney

Heather Lunney advises on all aspects of Employment Law for the transport and logistics sector. She has experience advising on a wide range of contentious and non-contentious employment law issues including defending tribunal claims, day-to-day disciplinary, dismissal and grievance issues, discrimination, redundancy/re-organisations, HR issues that can arise on the sale of a business or when outsourcing (TUPE) as well as strategic advice on settlement negotiations and exit agreements. Heather also carries out contract audits/health checks and drafts service agreements, employment contracts and policies/handbooks Heather regularly contributes to employment bulletins and newsletters and is a member of the Employment Lawyers Association.