Expiring driving licences: important update for all drivers

Posted 03/09/2020 : By: Tim Ridyard

Whether you are a private motorist or a professional driver, you need to be aware that if your photo card licence or entitlement to drive expires between 1 February and 31 December 2020 it will now be extended for a period of 11 months from the date of expiry.

The following important points apply:

  • you do not need to apply to extend the licence - it is automatic
  • before the extension (not the original deadline) expires you will be sent a DVLA reminder notice to renew the licence
  • if you have already applied to renew your licence you can continue to drive whilst the application is being processed unless you have been told by a doctor or by an optician that you cannot drive (this was already the legal position under the Road Traffic Act 1988).

An initial driving licence extension was granted for photo card driving licences due to expire between 1 February and 31 August 2020 but expired at the end of August 2020. The arrangements have now been now further extended to the end of the year under temporary changes announced by DVLA on 1 September 2020.

The effect of this is that an initial seven-month extension now becomes an 11-month one. Thus, a licence expiring in February 2020 was due to expire in September 2020 but now expires in January 2021. A licence expiring in December 2020 would have expired in July 2021 but will now have an expiry date of November 2021.

Photo cards

There is sometimes confusion about a failure to update photo card licences with a new photo. This is indeed an offence (not keeping correct information on the licence) but is not endorseable – importantly, it is not the offence of ‘No Driving Licence’ (Section 87.1 Road Traffic Act 1988).

If the photo is out of date, it does not mean that there is no valid driving entitlement, unless of course, the licence itself has expired. You can find that expiry date for each driving category on the reverse of the licence at 11. on a table of driving entitlements. On the front of the licence is the photo expiry date at 4b.

Ordinarily, drivers have to renew the photo card licence every 10 years, and vocational (bus and lorry drivers) every five years.

Car licences are in force until a driver reaches the age of 70 (unless revoked/ surrendered) with three-year renewals thereafter. Vocational bus and lorry drivers (called Group 2 licence holders) aged 45 and over have to renew their entitlement every five years.

Driving during a DVLA application

If your licence runs out whilst DVLA is processing an application you may be permitted under Section 88 Road Traffic Act 1988 to continue to drive. The DVLA confirms this in its information sheet INF188/6 and a driver must fulfil ALL of the following conditions:

  • no medical (health/eyesight) reason to be refused the licence i.e. not been told by doctor or optician not to drive)
  • there is a valid driving licence and the driver only drives vehicles applied for on the current application and was entitled to drive on the previous licence
  • the driving entitlement has not been suspended, revoked or refused by a traffic commissioner (applies to Group 2 (bus or lorry) licence-holders)
  • any conditions specified on the previous licence can be met
  • DVLA has received a correct/complete application within the last 12 months
  • the last licence was not revoked or refused for medical reasons
  • driver not currently disqualified from driving by a court or disqualified as a high-risk offender on or after 1 June 2013 (a high-risk offender is a driver convicted of a serious drink driving offence).

NB This is a general overview of the law and not provided as formal advice. If you require assistance with regard to specific circumstances then formal legal advice must be taken. Please also note that the COVID-19 pandemic means there are regular amendments to existing laws and temporary changes.

We Can Help You

Please contact Tim Ridyard on 07484 924834 or email tim.ridyard@ashtonslegal.co.uk for individual advice for you or your business.

Alternatively, if you or your business require advice or need assistance for any road transport matters, please get in touch with our specialist Road Transport team through this website or by calling 0330 404 0778.

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