Driving licence fines threaten two million drivers

Victoria Ford Updating the licence is a vital legal requirement, says Victoria Ford of DVLA

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Many drivers face a fine of £1,000 if they fail to update their photo-card driving licences, according to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.

It started issuing photo-card licences 15 years ago and more than 30 million drivers now have one.

These are usually valid for 10 years and there is a legal requirement for drivers to renew the photograph at the same time as they renew their licence.

However, two million drivers have failed to do this.

And this means they could be fined up to £1,000 should they be pulled over by the police, who then discover that the photo and licence is out of date.

Even failing to notify the DVLA that you have changed address could be costly.

Checking your licence

Photo-card driving licences are set to become mandatory in 2015, when new paper licences are officially phased out.

Start Quote

You can check these things online”

End Quote Paul Watters AA

Victoria Ford from the DVLA believes the reasons for updating the photograph on your licence are clear.

"Appearances can change and it is important that photo-card licences are updated every 10 years to ensure the police and other enforcement agencies have the best possible photograph to help them correctly identify whether a driving licence is being used fraudulently," she says.

"This helps prevent driving licence impersonation - stopping disqualified and perhaps dangerous drivers taking to our roads."

If you change your address or name, you have to tell the DVLA, so that your driving licence and car registration details can be updated.

Towards the bottom of the card, you will find the address the authorities have for you.

Normally the cost of renewing a licence is £20 but if you are merely updating your address, your new licence will be free.

Lack of knowledge

Research from LV Car Insurance shows that nearly a fifth of drivers they interviewed had no idea when their licence would run out, even though the expiry date is clearly shown on the front of the licence.

Drivers on whether they have renewed their photocard licences

One in 10 admitted they had not renewed their licence for more than 10 years.

The DVLA says that it sends letters to drivers whose licences are about to expire, but it is concerned that not everyone will check.

But it is not just failure to keep your licence up to date that can land drivers in hot water.

Paul Watters from the AA thinks there are a number of other issues that drivers are not even aware of, but which could cost them dear.

"There are quite a few things that drivers can be innocently get caught up in. For example, they may have insured their car, but their details may not appear on the Motor Insurance Database," he says.

"Also many people don't check their V5 document to see if their car is registered to the correct address. You can check these things online," he points out.

The continuous insurance enforcement penalty is £100 and a failure to register a vehicle can be a £1,000 fine in the courts.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    57 TAF I have never used my driving licence as a form of ID - it's a paper one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    Last year I renewed my HGV Licence with a Medical etc.then I sent all the stuff to Swansea. I received back all the stuff with a memo asking for my License... it was there in the pack they sent back to me! Strewth!

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    Well obviously this law needs overhauled as £1000, for such a insignificant offence is to say the least oppressive and totalitarian.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    6, Icebloo, not all Barristers earn a load of money as they only earn when they work which is not all the time. It costs well over £40,000 borrowed from the bank at high interest rates which needs to be paid back within 5 years or earlier. I don't see what is wrong in updating your license every10 years as you have to with a passport. I do hope the DVLA will remind us though.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    How about DVLA sending you a reminder as with car tax ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    Cash cow. Pay £25 every 10 years, which is sure to increase, or face a fine. Win win for government coffers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    it is simply a fact that driving licenses are the most used form of ID. We change features about every 10 years . If it costs £20 ( which is a bit steep ! ) its still under a penny a day . I believe a new first license is £50 , which is surely profiteering. When the banks eventually introduce credit cards with a photo we will see the real cost.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    I'm trying to change my address on-line right now and it certainly is not free! It's £35!

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    Oh Dear. A lot of people whining about renewing a document every ten years. You would think a passport was for life! I have to say though that when this was introduced I thought it may lead to it becoming a form of European travel document. This would have been good and a lot more secure than some of the ID documents used for travel by other member states.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    How can they justify a £1000 fine for something like this, when last year a 16 year old stole my car and wrote it off, and then received only a £150 fine to be paid off over 1 year and a driving ban (he's 16!!).

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    £1000 fine eh? And what do people get for driving with no insurance, tax and MOT? Exactly!!!!!!!!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    I didn't even realise I had to update mine until i moved house and sent my licence away to change my address then received a bill for £20 and asking to update my photo. I'm not a stupid person but really didn't know I had to do this as I had only moved a couple of years before that and was not asked then even though it had been due. Don't threaten people just put an advert on the TV.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    It would be better to have more of a positive reminder. Why go in with threats of fines first? I have a paper licence. Do I have to get a new licence? If so I would prefer to be informed of that in a civil way rather than threatened. I have no problem with renewing if required but some civility would be nice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    Isn't it about time we ABOLISHED the DVLA!

    The pettifogging little bureaucrats do very little to ensure that every car on the road has insurance. All they seem to do is to threaten the law abiding with ridiculous fines.

    The surely should be enough to get they closed down.

    Oh wait a minute we can't do that as they have been privatised!

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    This BBC article is not correct when it states " the expiry date is clearly shown on the front of the licence".

    Unlike a bank card, the words "EXPIRY DATE" are not stated anywhere on the driving licence card.

    The design of the card is poor as it requires people to look at the definitions on the back of the licence (in tiny print).

    DVLA need to change the wording to warn people about renewal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    My licence hasn't got a pic and I've never been told by the DVLA it needed one.

    How are we old drivers out here supposed to know this?

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.


    The government does not force anything.
    If you choose to drive then you have be prepared to pay the costs.
    You also have the choice the surrender your license.
    The DVLA does send reminders to update licenses, you have to do this every 10 years to make sure your photo and details are up to date.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    Hoorah for @35

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    Could have been worse. Under the plan for ID cards, you could sign up for a card in one of the pilot offices, move to Aberdeen three years later, ring to change your address, not remember what the "shared secret" passcodes were, and be forced to go journey back to Manchester to show your fingerprint and prove you've moved - or get fined £1,000.

    At least the DVLA don't force you to go to Swansea.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    I have to renew my licence at least every five years; I'm a lorry driver. I also have to pay for that privelege by having a medical.

    Up until 1973, when the system was first computerised, you had to renew it every three years. No thought was given then to the cost of administering the system.

    A driving licence is a privelege, not a right. Pay up, get legal and stop whining.


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