Driving licence checks

On 8th June 2015, the counterpart driving licence was abolished. This made way for an online system for employers, car hire companies and individuals to check a driving licence. Road transport solicitor Mike Hayward provides an update.

Driving licence changes come in from June 2015

A driver can provide consent to a third party to check their driver's licence, and to share their information, the driver needs to obtain a code from the DVLA and pass that onto any person or organisation who wishes to carry out an independent check against their licence.

Previously, the code generated for motorists to share their record lasted just 72 hours. If it wasn't checked in that period, the process would need to start again.

Following complaints and recommendations by individuals, businesses and representative bodies, the DVLA has now extended that period to 21 days.

This will assist businesses who employ drivers such as the transport and haulage sector as well as driver agencies, taxi operators and fleet managers, and came into operation from 10th July 2015.

You can view your driving licence information (and share that information) by visiting www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence

What do I need if I hire out a vehicle or hire out cars or vans as a business?

Anyone hiring a car has historically been asked to show their paper licence. This would contain details of driving entitlements plus contain any endorsements (penalty points). It provided a quick glance overview of a driver's licence. However, this counterpart could be inaccurate. It could, for example, show a clean licence of points but would not necessarily mean the driver was free of convictions. A driver could have obtained two counterparts; keeping a clean one to show an employer, whilst the second would be sent off to be endorsed! This may be an extreme example but it illustrates the ease in which a driver could mislead someone into thinking they had a clean record.

The need to check a driver's licence is paramount for employers, especially in the haulage and passenger sector. If a driver is prosecuted for failing to have a licence or the requisite entitlement to drive a vehicle of a particular type, then an employer can also be prosecuted. Driver checks are therefore a mainstay of operator compliance.

When hiring a vehicle, a hire company may now only ask to see your photocard licence. Check with the hire company what their requirements are as they may want to check your licence online using the code referred to above, which may require obtaining the necessary information in advance.

If driving abroad, you should check with the hire company to see what their requirements are. A tip would be to undertake your own driving licence check and print out the report. Have copies of this with you to show to the hire company or if you are stopped by the police. You may still want to carry your now invalid paper part as we suspect some hire companies outside the UK may not yet have learnt of the changes.

Pre-1998 paper licences remain valid and undoubtedly some hire companies may still accept sight of post-1998 paper licences although they no longer have any legal status.

An outline

• Since 8th June 2015, penalty points are only recorded electronically

• Paper licences issued before 1998 remain valid and should not be destroyed

• You will only be issued with a photo card for new or updated licences

• If you appear at court they will retain the paper licence and not return it. We suggest you take your card and a recent driver licence check printout with you, despite the court having some access to your licence history

• Since 8th June 2015, you do not need to take your counterpart to a driving test

• The share service entitling another to view your licence is free. If you have difficulties obtaining a share code then call the DVLA on 0300 083 0013

• If hiring abroad, we strongly advise you to plan well in advance

• Check the driving licence checks required by a hire company as above.

Driving abroad

• Check what driving requirements apply in the country you are driving in. Some require you to carry your licence, MOT and log book

• Check you have insurance for your vehicle abroad. Many insurance companies will state they provide cover European driving BUT this is often based on third party cover only

• Obtain a 'green card' available from your insurance company. This acts as proof you have insurance to drive in another European country. Remember the rules vary from country to country

• Check your licence entitles you to drive in a particular country

• As a UK licence holder, you will be able to drive within the EU, but outside of the EU you need an International Driving Permit

• You should also check for any other necessary requirements. In France for instance, you must carry spare bulbs, a fire extinguisher, fluorescent jackets for all occupants and breathalyser kits.

Motoring law and regulation can appear confusing. Our specialist motoring team regularly advise those who have fallen foul of the law. However, with some proactive research you can avoid enforcement and enjoy the pleasures of motoring.

For help or advice

If you have any questions please contact Milton Keynes solicitor Mike Hayward on 01908 202150 or email mhayward@woodfines.co.uk.

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Driving licence changes are coming in June 2015