Prior to 1998 DVLA issued paper driving licences which, as long as the address and details on it remain the same, the driver is under no obligation to upgrade to current style.
Since 1998 DVLA have issued photocard driving licences in a credit card sized laminated form which incorporates various security features and includes a photo of the holder which must be renewed every 10 years.
Since the introduction of the photocard, and up until June 2015, each card had a paper counterpart which held full details of the driver and where a court or DVLA would enter endorsements for relevant Road Traffic convictions.
In June 2015 the DVLA abolished counterparts and advise drivers to destroy them as they are no longer valid. The primary function of the counterpart was to have somewhere to record endorsements on the licence. DVLA have replaced this with an electronic online version.
Both paper and photo card licences have the categories which the licence holder is authorised to drive printed on the document. The categories are listed on the DVLA website and have pictograms beside each category for ease of reference.
Drivers are responsible for making sure that their licence is current, valid and of the correct category for any vehicle they may drive in the course of their employment, including ensuring any photo card is current, the address is correct and they have passed the relevant driving test for any category of vehicle driven. An employer may be liable if they cause or permit an employee to drive a vehicle when the driver has an unsuitable or invalid licence. The DVLA may prompt drivers needing to update their licence but not in all cases and this is, purely a courtesy. The requirement to keep the licence current rests with the driver.
Organisations should make sure that every driver has a valid driving licence for the vehicle they are driving. They should check the driving licence(s) of their driver(s) annually (or more often) and keep a record of the check.
Licence endorsement codes and penalty points will be shown. Many are linked to F2D factors e.g.
- DR20 Driving or attempting to drive while unfit through drink
- DR80 Driving or attempting to drive when unfit through drugs
- LC30 Driving after making a false declaration about fitness when applying for a licence
- MS70 Driving with uncorrected defective eyesight
A full list of endorsements can be found at www.gov.uk/penalty-points-endorsements/endorsement-codes-and-penalty-points
If an employer requires to check the validity of a licence including category entitlement and convictions the licence can be viewed online. The driver visits the DVLA website and searches for `View my licence`. The driver has a choice of doing this in the presence of their employer or they can visit the site in private and obtain a code which the third party can use to access the same info. Prints of the licence info can be obtained by either method. The driver just needs to know their driver number and post code, both of which are displayed on the photocard, and their National Insurance number as a security measure.
You can check the accuracy of a driving licence through the DVLA provided you have the drivers permission to do so, find out more at https://www.gov.uk/check-driving-information
A driver with a licence from any country out with the European Union can drive here for a period of one year. There are some exceptions such as students studying here on a student visa but this will be unlikely to impact employers using goods vehicles and public service vehicles.
A driver holding an EU licence can drive here with no restriction until they reach 70 years. An additional condition for vocational drivers (that is drivers who are employed for hire and reward and are driving vehicles over 3.5 tonnes gross in the course of that employment) is that they need to apply to DVLA for a digital tachograph card and in the case of a driver of 45 years or above, they need to start complying with the required 5-yearly medical checks. Such a driver will have a skeleton record created for them to hold required information but this will not give them entitlement to drive, they will rely on the licence and categories given by their EU or foreign licence (no more than 12 months in the case of foreign licence holders).
There is currently no mechanism to readily obtain information about drivers from any foreign country.
Clearly there is currently some uncertainty about Great Britain's membership of the European Union and the future extent of any agreements between GB and EU member states. Regarding driving licences, and the mutual recognition of same, this will need closer monitoring.
As each driver is responsible for their own licence and to abide by its conditions, an important aspect of this is the driver's health. Every driver of buses or large vehicles is required to undergo a fitness check every 5 years from the age of 45.
Separately, and no matter their age, any driver suffering from any medical condition which may affect their ability to drive safely is obliged to inform DVLA of that. This can be done by a number of means - website, by telephone or letter. The website will direct drivers to downloadable forms H1 for car/motorcycle licence and to form VOCH1 for bus/lorry drivers. There is also a definitive list on the website, under `Tell DVLA about a medical condition that could affect your driving`.
DVLA will then decide on the severity of the condition and have a number of outcomes available. The driver will most likely be referred for exam by their own doctor in the first instance and then to any specialist deemed necessary. Depending on the results the licence may be unaltered for a minor condition or it could be restricted either by losing categories or by making it valid for 3, 2 or 1 year in more serious cases. The ultimate sanction is for DVLA to refuse to issue a licence, this is only in serious cases where the person presents a danger by driving with a serious health condition.
The DVLA ‘At A Glance’ Guide for medical practitioners is a comprehensive list of medical conditions that may affect an individual’s fitness to drive. The guide is in pdf format and can be accessed by the public via the gov.uk website: The DVLA ‘At A Glance’ Guide
Three levels of intervention may be considered by DVLA
- Note and monitor condition but take no action
- Restrict category or licence duration and / or add conditions.
- Revoke category or licence on medical grounds.
A problem here is that all of this takes time, and an employer may not know that these medial checks are taking place. As an employer this means that your driver could be driving legally with a health condition but this could be putting your business and other road users at risk. Your policy on driving for work must be clear on the need for confidential disclosure of any condition that could influence the driver’s ability to drive. You will have to make sure your driver and their managers are aware of this and that there is provision for this to happen. On disclosure, a risk assessment of the current status of that driver and suitable actions (perhaps in the short term) should be put in place.
Your organisation should: have procedures in place for regularly checking that drivers meet the necessary medical standards for driving. [On recruitment and periodically thereafter]. All drivers should undergo assessment after an absence if it is likely that the illness/injury has affected the worker’s fitness to drive safely.
Your risk assessment should determine the controls you need to put in place for the types of drivers your organisation employs, you may choose to require:
New drivers to undergo a medical check, prior to acceptance as a driver.
Drivers to sign a declaration that they are medically fit to drive, and are not taking any medication, or undergoing any medical treatment, that may affect their ability to drive safely.
Whether a ‘medical fitness to drive’ check is carried out by a health professional or a self declaration is used, it is sensible to conduct re-assessments at regular intervals and to keep a record of the process. Organisations should obtain the services of an appropriate occupational health adviser for this purpose.
Drivers of large vehicles over 3,500kgs, minibuses and buses [vocational] must be medically assessed every five years once they reach the age of 45 in order to have their licence renewed by DLA.
The points below highlight just how important it is to ensure that companies consider fitness two drive as part of their overall workplace/occupational health and safety management. There are several offences linked to driver health.
For example, the Road Traffic Act:
• S.96 driving with uncorrected eyesight
• 3A. Causing death by careless driving when under influence of drink or drugs.
• S4 Driving, or being in charge, when under influence of drink or drugs.
• S5. Driving or being in charge of a motor vehicle with alcohol concentration above prescribed limit.
Road Traffic Act 1988, section 1
5. Causing death by dangerous driving, the most serious road traffic offence and a driver will be charged with this where there is a fatality and the standard of their driving fell far below that of a careful and competent driver. When the court is assessing the seriousness of the offence, various fitness to drive factors are taken into account. (Allianz motor prosecutions)
• The effects of alcohol or drugs
• Seriously culpable behaviour of offender – this can include driving when knowingly suffering from a medical or physical condition that impairs driving skills; driving when knowingly deprived of adequate sleep or rest.
Police officers can only become involved in a scenario in which a driver's health is in question where there has been an offence committed. Where there is evidence that a driver has a notifiable condition but has not disclosed same to DVLA then the driver is guilty of section 94 Road Traffic Act 1988. Equally, if the condition has been disclosed and DVLA have revoked the licence but the driver keeps driving then he is also guilty of an offence under sec 94 RTA 1988.
In most cases, the police take the lead on investigating road traffic incidents on public roads, and where an employee is involved in a serious motoring incident there can also be serious consequences for the employer. The Health & Safety Executive may also look to conduct an investigation in order to determine whether the employer’s actions contributed to the incident.
If there is evidence that serious management failures were a significant contributory factor to the incident then the company or organisation could be at risk of being prosecuted under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.