HealthDay News — Driving regulations for patients with epilepsy, subclinical epileptiform discharges, and “seizure-like” non-epileptic events were discussed in three studies presented at the American Epilepsy Society 2014 meeting in Seattle.

Vineet Punia, MD, from the Cleveland Clinic, and colleagues examined factors related to seizures that potentially impair driving and lead to motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) in people with medically refractory epilepsy. 

Data were included for 553 patients with epilepsy, of whom 215 (38.9%) reported having seizures while driving. Among patients who had seizures while driving, 74 had no accidents and 141 had accidents, the researchers found. 

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The presence of a reliable aura did not differ between the groups. The odds of being involved in MVAs due to a seizure were increased for those with a history of complex partial seizures (odds ratio, 2.83).

In another study, Yang Si, MD, PhD student at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, and colleagues examined the effects of sustained >1 second duration subclinical epileptiform discharges (SEDs) on driving safety. 

SEDs were less commonly associated with crashes, the researchers found. On analysis of SED characteristics, there was a trend for longer lasting generalized SEDs to be associated with a crash. 

In a third study, Kristine Ziemba, MD, PhD, and Joseph Drazkowski, MD, from the Mayo Clinic Arizona in Phoenix, found that people with “seizure-like” non-epileptic events may experience events while driving, but these events are less likely to lead to a crash than epileptic seizures.

“To err on the side of safety, many neurologists will recommend that patients diagnosed with non-epileptic events refrain from driving just like those with active epilepsy,” Ziemba said in a statement.


  1. Punia V. Abstract #A.02. “Factors influencing driving impairment in persons with refractory epilepsy.” 
  2. Si Y et al. Abstract #1.062. “Prospective evaluation of the effects of clinical and subclinical epileptoform discharges on driving safety.”
  3. Ziembia K et al. Abstract #2.139. “Driving safety in people with non-epileptical events.” 

All presented at the American Epilepsy Society 2014 Meeting; Dec. 5-9: Seattle, Washington.