A British Paralympian is threatening to take the DVLA to court for being left “a prisoner in my own home” after the agency insisted on convening a “secret” panel to assess his ability to drive – despite passing his driving test last month. Jonathan Adams, 26, who represented Team GB in the shot put at London 2012, has cerebral palsy and is visually impaired in one eye.
He has spent thousands of pounds on driving lessons, having first started to learn in 2011 and failing a test before beginning another course last year. Mr Adams passed the theory test and then completed his practical exam in August at a mobility driving centre, where disabled drivers must be assessed.
“Aside from the impairments that I have, there was no concern from the examiner’s point of view what I needed to put on my [application] form prior to taking my test,”
Mr Adams told the i from his home in Great Cornard, in Suffolk. “I only had a few minor errors, which were to do with sat-nav use. He was very complimentary about my driving.
After he filled in my form, he said I should get my licence in 3-4 weeks, but I still haven’t got it.” Mr Adams – and his parents – were thrilled that he passed his exam and began looking at car options only to be told by a manufacturer upon checking his eligibility to drive that his licence was “void”.
The DVLA then ordered him to attend an eye sight check and an assessment to check his eligibility to drive with his visual impairment, which Mr Adams passed following a screening at Specsavers in nearby Sudbury earlier this month. “This was following documentation I had to send in disclosing about my disability and whether I’m legally capable and fit to drive, despite having already completed the system governed by people within Great Britain to become qualified drivers,” he said.
The DVLA also told Mr Adams they needed an expert opinion from a doctor, in this case the paediatric doctor who oversaw his World Para Athletics classification this year.
“My issue is that the DVLA have ordered my doctor to speak on my behalf regarding her impressions of my disability and the impact that has on my eligibility to drive, despite having never seen me behind the wheel.”
Mr Adams, who can only drive automatic vehicles, acknowledges that his disability on paper seems severe.
All four limbs of his body are affected when he drives and as his legs are of slightly different length, he has to sit in a certain position to be comfortable behind the wheel.
“And with my vision it means that while the barriers are complex, my approach has always been to survive by way of adapting to the challenges that life presents and giving myself the best opportunity to excel change attitudes and make impossible reality,” he said. However, neither his driving instructor nor examiner had any issues with his ability to drive.
“If there was clear medical evidence to suggest otherwise which, if there was, I wouldn’t even be able to learn to drive in the first place,” Mr Adams said.
He also said the DVLA has refused to allow him to appear before the panel in person to argue his case.
“I do not believe under any reasonable circumstances it’s humanely right to be treated in such a fashion. I feel violated and victimised for being born a disabled person.”
A spokesman for the DVLA told i a licence has been issued for Mr Adams but refused to answer any further questions, including whether the licence had been sent in the post, why the panel had been convened or whether it has completed its assessment.
This story first appeared on our sister site the i