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Driving Licence Changes 2015 – What you need to know

The implications of the changes for both drivers and vehicle operators

From 8 June 2015, several important changes are being made to the existing UK driving licence and how driving licence details are stored, in alignment with the DVLA’s Strategic Plan to simplify licensing and make it easier for drivers to get on the road. 

The changes

  1. The Counterpart driving licence is being abolished, although paper driving licences will need to be retained. New/updated licences will be issued in photo card form only.
  2. New penalty points will no longer be recorded on licences but will be stored electronically. Endorsements, together with details of which types of vehicles a driving licence is held for, can be viewed on a new free online service that can also be checked by employers, vehicle hire companies and potentially insurers, provided consent from the driver is obtained.

Implications for drivers

From 8 June 2015, drivers should destroy their counterpart licence, which will have no legal status. Drivers will no longer be required to present their counterpart licences when taking their theory or practical testing but the photo card will still be required. Licence details can be viewed online using the DVLA’s licence checking service. Licence details can still be obtained by post for a fee of £5.00.

Licences will still be required to be submitted for endorsement with penalty points at Court. However these penalty points will no longer be recorded on the counterpart licence.

Individuals should ensure that they check their driving licence details prior to applying for or renewing car insurance, so that the information that they are providing to their insurers is correct. This will help to avoid any indemnity issues should they need to make a claim.

Implications for vehicle operators

The changes should make checking an employee’s driving licence details easier and the results more accurate. Operators can also access driving licence details through the licence checking service. Operators require the last 8 digits of the employee’s driving licence number and a “checking code” generated, at the request of the employee, to perform a check. The code can be used for 72 hours, after which it will expire.

The checking service will also be used to prove a driver’s licensing history when hiring vehicles. This could be of potential application to insurers when checking the accuracy of insurance applications, depending upon the consent of drivers being provided to undertake such checks.

In order to satisfy the DVSA/Traffic Commissioner that regular checks on employees’ vehicle licenses are being made, operators should record these regular vehicle licensing checks by keeping a file note of the outcome. Licences should always be checked at the commencement of employment, following which checks should be made on a regular basis, for example every 6 months.

Operators need to ensure they obtain / store this information in accordance with data protection legislation; the particular points to note are below.

  • Ensure that only the necessary information required is recorded on file.
  • Regularly review the information recorded to ensure that it is current and up-to-date.
  • Make sure that the rights of employees as data subjects are protected, notably that employees can request and receive a copy of all personal information relating to them held by the operator.

Both drivers and operators should be aware of the changes and how they can access driving licence details in future. Operators should also bear in mind the data protection implications of keeping records of driving licence checks on their file for regulatory purposes.

Author: Charlie Mahoney

This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.

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