Elderly driver branded 'unsafe' wins back licence

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A 78-year-old woman from Reading who lost her licence – after motoring authorities deemed her "unsafe" to drive following an accident – has now won it back.

Georgina Frances Hitchen was involved in an accident in 2012 and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) subsequently decided to revoke her licence, citing "age-related cognitive impairment". Though a magistrates' court backed this decision, a High Court judge has now overturned it.

Ms Justice Simler ruled that there could have been other reasons for Ms Hitchen's poor driving leading to the accident involving three other cars and a tree.

The judge added that there was no medial evidence that backed up the DVLA's decision to revoke Ms Hitchen's licence, reports the Press Association: "A relevant disability cannot be inferred from a driving performance alone.

"There had to be clear evidence that 'a relevant physical or mental disability' existed but in Ms Hitchen's case there was none. In fact there was clear evidence that she did not suffer from cognitive impairment."

Ms Hitchen was later examined by specialist in geriatric medicine and dementia, Dr Morgan, who stated that she showed "normal mental faculties and no signs of age-related cognitive decline which would cause her to be a hazard whilst driving."

When appearing before magistrates in Oxford Ms Hitchen argued that if the decision against her was allowed to stand, older drivers whose driving was poor faced having their licences revoked on the basis of age-related cognitive impairment without any medical evidence, whilst younger drivers with the same level of driving would not.

Summarising the case, the judge ruled: "This was a case where bad driving could have been caused by something else, such as poor driving habits, lack of skill, anxiety or nervousness."

Author: Lina Edvardsson Ceder