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Legal expert highlights dangers of driving with defective eyesight

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By Paul Loughlin, of national law firm Stephensons

A police crackdown on motorists with defective vision has highlighted the legal repercussions of continuing to drive with defective eyesight. 

Read more: Drivers who fail police roadside eye tests to lose licenses 

Police in Thames Valley, Hampshire and West Midlands are to test every driver they stop to check they can read a number place 20m (65ft) in the distance.

The Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) could revoke the driver’s licence if police fear other people could be endangered by them staying on the road.

The issue of drivers with defective eyesight has been under the spotlight in recent years.

A high-profile court case following the death of Poppy-Arabella Clark prompted calls last year for the law in this area to be tightened.

The three-year-old was killed by a 73-year-old motorist who had ignored opticians’ warnings not to drive and was not wearing his glasses at the time.

At the moment, the only mandatory examination of a driver's vision is when they are taking their driving test. 

But drivers must realise that under the current rules, you are committing an offence if you drive with uncorrected defective eyesight and you could pay the penalty.

Regardless of what part of the country you are in, a police officer can request you to submit to an eye-test. It is an offence to fail or refuse to comply which can result in three penalty points or a discretionary disqualification.

Aside from that, you also have an ongoing duty to report any medical condition affecting your driving to the DVLA. If you do not tell the DVLA of such a condition you can be prosecuted and fined up to £1,000.

This issue can also come to light after a standard eye test. If an opthalmologist or optometrist has concerns over your visual field, ‘peripheral’ vision or central vision and they know you have a driving licence, they should report those concerns.

You must meet the DVLA’s minimum eyesight standards for driving or your licence will be revoked.

Drivers who seek to have their licence reinstated will have to re-apply for a licence and pay the fee again.

The DVLA may require evidence that their vision is up to standard and insist on an additional eye test before they can take to the road. 

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