The Government has granted a seven-month extension to drivers whose photocard driving licence expires between the start of February and the end of August.
The move aims help those drivers who might have had problems getting a suitable photo taken during the Covid-19 outbreak or have otherwise struggled to contact the reduced Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) service.
Normally drivers are required to renew their photocard licence every 10 years, and bus and lorry drivers every five years.
Licence Check general manager, Terry Hiles, said: “This move is a welcome initiative at this very difficult time as it gives drivers more time to renew their photocard licences.”
The extension will be automatically applied to drivers with a photocard licence due to expire due to expire between February 1 and August 31, 2020. A renewal reminder will be sent before the seven-month period ends by the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency).
However, Hiles explained: “The DVLA will not be automatically updating those driver records which should have been renewed between February and August with the new extension details and will continue to show the existing expiry date currently held on the driving licence on its own system.”
The DVLA will only update its records once drivers have made an application to renew their licence once the end of the seven-month extension period has been reached.
As a result, Hiles says that the extension will not be shown on any of the DVLA’s enquiry services, such as the View/Share service which drivers can currently use to check their own licence details are accurate, and which they can use to generate a unique code by which employers or third parties, such as daily rental companies, can check drivers’ licences for validity.
Licence Check told Fleet News it has taken steps to ensure that customers of its cloud-based DAVIS system will be provided with the extended date for all driver records in the qualifying period.
“This will reflect the correct legally applicable date, but it does mean we will be out of step with the information held by the DVLA as its driver records will not have been changed,” said Hiles.
“Our primary concern is to avoid false alerts and unnecessary checking for our customers, especially where customers have set the service to conduct additional checks upon expiration dates.We don’t want to flag up urgent warnings to customers when there is no reason to do so.”
Licence Check customers will also be automatically notified of pending photocard expirations for their drivers in advance of the new renewal date, and any automatic rechecks will be made on the revised date as normal.
With around 41 million category B driving licences for passenger cars and 8 million provisional licences in circulation, the new ruling could affect many business drivers who will now be able to drive for an additional seven months on what would have otherwise been an invalid licence.
The penalty for drivers who drive without the correct photocard licence, which should be renewed every 10 years to take into account changes in appearance, is a fine of up to £1,000.
The new extension does not extend to the driver’s actual entitlement to drive a vehicle – through age, medical condition or as a vocational driver – which will need to renewed in the normal way to allow continued driving. For vocational drivers, such as HGV or PSV drivers, this is every five years.
DVLA chief executive, Julie Lennard, said: “This extension will make it easier for drivers who need to update their photocard licence with a new photograph. This means as long as they have a valid licence, drivers will be able to continue to make essential journeys.
“The extension is automatic so drivers do not need to do anything and will be sent a reminder to renew their photocard before the extension ends.”
A car (Group 1) licence generally remains in force until the driver reaches 70, unless revoked or surrendered.
At aged 70 the driver must renew their entitlement to drive every three years if they wish to continue to hold a valid licence.
Bus and lorry (Group 2) licence holders aged 45 and over are required to renew their entitlement to drive every five years.
Holders of short- term medical licences will also need to renew their entitlement to drive. The seven-month extension does not apply to renewal of entitlement to drive.
The DVLA’s online services to renew your driving licence and replace a driving licence are available for those drivers who need to renew their entitlement to drive or replace a lost or stolen licence.
Read our latest digital edition of Fleet News, where we pay tribute to the fleets and key workers who stepped up during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic to help save lives and keep the country running.