Diabetic’s court bid to overturn driving ban

Maggie Smith has accused the DVLA of 'complete discrimination'. Picture: Toby Williams
Maggie Smith has accused the DVLA of 'complete discrimination'. Picture: Toby Williams
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A DIABETIC who has been banned from the roads after suffering severe hypoglycemic attacks has vowed to take the DVLA to court in a bid to win a landmark victory and get her licence back.

Maggie Smith, of Barnton, branded European rules “Draconian” and accused authorities of “complete discrimination” after her driving licence was stripped earlier this month.

She had two severe hypoglycemic attacks, which are caused when glucose levels in blood fall dangerously low, in her sleep last winter. But due to DVLA rules, she had to declare the incidents recently – several months after they occurred.

Despite an appeal to the body and a letter of support from her expert consultant, the 43-year-old’s pleas fell on deaf ears.

Maggie, who has type one diabetes, had vowed to challenge the ruling in the courts in a bid to set a precedent for other diabetics. However, she has been warned that she could be left with a bill of thousands of pounds if the ruling goes against her and the DVLA claims back its costs.

She said: “I believe it’s going to be the first case of its kind in Scotland, but I feel that I have to do it. I haven’t done anything wrong. I understand why these rules are in place, but I was sleeping in my bed when I had my hypos. Imagine what this will do to diabetics. It means they will stop phoning for help and they might die. It’s horrendous.”

Maggie said the ban was already having a devastating effect on her life. Her eight-year-old son, Bodie, and parents, Isabel and Bill, both in their 70s, rely on her for transport.

The ban will remain in place until 12 months has passed since her first attack.

In his supporting letter for her appeal, consultant Dr Mark Strachan wrote that Maggie was an “extremely responsible individual when it comes to the management of type one diabetes” and checked blood glucose levels before and during breaks in driving. He warned that a ban would create an enormous burden for Maggie and her family and the fact that the attacks came when she was sleeping was important.

Diabetes UK Scotland said it was consulting with its legal advisors to find out more about the Scottish appeals mechanism.

A DVLA spokesman said: “The DVLA must apply European medical standards but we consider every case individually and only refuse licences where absolutely necessary.

“We contacted the 
European Commission to ensure our understanding of the minimum standards required by the Directive were correct and received clarification that no distinction can be made between severe hypoglycaemic episodes needing the assistance of a third party that occur in the night to episodes that occur in the day.”