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could be fined up to £1,000 should they be pulled over by the police, who then discover that the photo and licence is out of date.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 82.

    What is the problem? I checked my photo licence when I got it & saw the expiry date. Eventually I got a reminder so I renewed it.......it's my licence & my responsibility. If licences were taken away when not renewed you can bet they would be......& promptly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    unbelievably niave, those asking why there are not reminders or information campaigns!

    When will people understand that the Government regards motorists as cash-cows to be milked?

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    Apparently the DVLC send a reminder letter 90 days before the licence is due to expire. However, the "green" licence I purchased in 1974 was valid until I reached the age of seventy so there may be legal redress as the government have clearly changed the terms and conditions. They certainly should have done more to publicise this!

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    ..@42. ronnieboy1.."you dont see so much of the old bill on the roads these days so I wont lose any sleep over it."
    Plenty on the M20. Like yesterday; unmarked, until blues and twos come on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    A driving licence is primarily proof that drivers have passed a test and have, at some point in the past, proved themselves competent to drive.

    The problem is that, since licences are often used as a means of identification, a picture is needed and peoples' appearances change. Updates should, however, be free as you paid for your licence when you got it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    It's really not hard. DVLA sent me a reminder as my photocard had expired (they are already doing this - not just fining people without telling them).

    I can see on the card when the expiry date is - all I have to do is get to a post office and have a new photo taken. Cost - £20 every 10 years. Not a problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    @19 A lot of my neighbours are revolting. They really are disgusting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    Maybe Labour's ID cards weren't such a bad idea after all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    I still have my old pink paper licence. Is that ok? Is this 2015 date for changing to the plastic card for definite? I thought I could sit on my paper licence till I was an old ma.

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    The majority with an expired licence probably don't even realise, because nowhere does it say "expires XX.XX.XX". The date is on the front and the explanation of what that date is is on the back. Why?

    To those who are saying they don't have a photo, that's fine if you haven't changed your details since you got it. If you need to renew it for any reason you are forced to have a photo licence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    As a driver, I never carry my licence, as I understand that is not a legal requirement. Does DVLA not send a reminder a month or so before renewal is due? It's clear many drivers move and do not tell DVLA - that is a serious matter.

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    I have looked at my licence & the expiry date & would NOT describe it as clear as it needs to be cross referenced with the minuscule writing on the back of the card.

    The card is poorly laid out, I have 2 photos, 1 small, 1 large, what's the purpose of that. The EU symbol is poorly placed, it should be in the top left corner out of the way of the text. It is not designed to be clear and helpful

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    I don't know how DVLA can say that the expiry date is "clearly" shown. I had to go to their website to decifer the coding on the front of the card.

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    So I dont understand - if your address is out of date and you get stopped by the police - how are they to know - unless they have another way of knowing what name goes with what address - and surely the photo is enough by itself to verify identity - your address is irrelevant to whether you have a driving license or not -

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    A revenue stream for another desperate state department facing cuts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    @50 Theresa: If you read the article, paper licences are to be phased out in 2015 and photo ones become mandatory. However, you still have to carry a piece of paper with you that comes with the photo licence!!! How daft is that?

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    Isn't time that this government, any government, started picking on the big businesses instead of the soft target public. On motoring matters for instance, why do they allow practically all insurance companies these days to whack a hefty admin penalty on anyone wanting to change their address or vehicle details. Answer - because they can. They know they can get away with it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    The photocard clearly has an expiry date on it and we do change in appearance over the years so it seems sensible that we should have to update it from time to time. Ideally this should be a free service (minus the cost of having the photo done of course). If people have forgotten to update they should be sent a reminder letter and given a short period to renew before being issued with a fine.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.


    Not so, Steve. Immigrants are required to register for British licences and to hand in their old ones. They are also required to update them every ten years, and keep the DVLA informed of address changes.

    Stealth tax? Yes. Expense claims, gold plated pensions and wasteful decision making costing billions have to be paid for somehow. Who easier to tax than road users?

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    This is why I've still got my trusty paper licence :-)

    I have no plans to get one of the new fangled photo cards until I'm forced to... which will probably be when I next move house in 5-10 years time.


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