RAC Cars News


Millions Of Motorists Unwittingly Breaking The Law

By raccars Published

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Huge numbers of UK motorists are unwittingly driving around with out of date licences, putting themselves at risk of penalty fines.

It is estimated that 7% of UK licence holders have failed to update the address on their driving licence, which could lead to a DVLA fine of up to £1,000 if prosecuted. That potentially adds up to £2.6 billion outstanding, should the DVLA pursue the issue with the 2.6 million motorists implicated.

While a licence renewal costs £20, updates to details such as name and address are free of charge. Nonetheless, apart from neglecting to update addresses, 3% of female drivers have failed to update their driving licence to their married name. A further 2% are suffering from physical or visual difficulties which should have been reported to the DVLA.

Seven and a half million or 20% of drivers are still relying on paper licences, all of which are to be exchanged for photo licences by 2015 and of those who have got a photo licence, many have not updated the photograph they supplied when first applying. Most are unaware that their driving licence photo needs to be renewed every ten years, as mandated by the DVLA, a task which costs £20. A survey conducted in 2012 found that 13 million drivers are due to update their driving licence photographs within the next five years, but 41% of licence holders are unaware that failure to do so puts them at risk of a possible £1,000 penalty fine. While drivers should receive a reminder by post two months before their licences become invalid, many miss or ignore the notice. Licence holders can check the validity of their photos by checking section 4b on the front of their photocards.

Failure to update the licence in itself does not mean motorists are driving illegally but they can be prosecuted should police stop them, if they hire cars abroad or are involved in offences while driving abroad. While a third of British licence holders were aware that their licences were out of date, another 10 million were oblivious to the situation.

Driving licences can be update by post or online. Applicants will need their existing licence and a Government Gateway ID, which is an online account, giving access to various government services. The process should take three weeks to complete. There are still some UK Post Offices which will complete the process for you, for a fee.

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