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could be fined up to £1,000 should they be pulled over by the police, who then discover that the photo and licence is out of date.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 102.

    I haven't changed my photo since getting the card nearly 15 years ago. Not once have I been sent a reminder letter and I see no reason to change it until I receive such a request.

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

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

    Err! Where has this come from? AFAIK there are no plans to make Photocard licenses mandatory at all.

    What they are doing is phasing out the PAPER COUNTERPART of the Photocard license.

    BBC please check your infornation, I think you have confussed two seperate issues!

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    This will no doubt go to pay for lazy, pampered public "servants" sitting behind desks at the DVLA surfing Facebook.

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    Excellent. Why not make everyone register with photos at their local council too...we could contribute a hundred pounds each perhaps for this, and make sure that has to be renewed annually too.
    Oh and the same at your doctor's surgery too...I can think of lots of good ideas like this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    @51 Juels: Ah but, a TV advert would cost THEM money... Easier to get free advertising through the news.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    I have Asperger's and thus have accepted I'll never get a full license (sensory overload prevents me passing test). However I did update my old paper provisional to a photocard (free if your passport photo is less than 5 yrs old). In a world where buying the most innocuous items (ibuprofen!) involves being challenged for ID, it's a useful thing to carry (and still cheaper than Labour's ID cards).

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    I am with madmum. Gnasty gnome reads like a DVLA plant - a privilege? anyway to update your picture in their database should be a trivial exercise with current technology.
    What A cynic like myself thinks this is effectively an id card by the back door, that the citizen has the privilege of paying the state for. Borrocks!

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    are the DVLA going to get fined when your new licence arrives with the wrong details on it and you have to prove that you passed a motorcycle test years ago

    I dont think so

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    You won't be fined £1000 for the first offence. This is the maximum applicable fine as in all cases of criminal law. It's a reminder that this is the possible penalty if you fail to renew.

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    Unbelievable, this is the first my family and I have heard of this10 year Driving Licence renewal requirement. What happened to the public awareness campaign DVLA....£1000 fine for this a £5000 for that. This country is slowly heading toward the abyss and just seems to be heading head long into becoming a bureaucratic police state. Its time to stand up and say enough's, enough!

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    The DVLA web online services page has options
    Change Address
    Change Picture
    Change from Paper to Photocard
    Renew Licence if over 70
    But it doesn't have an option simply to renew your licence!

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    Another the government continues to screw over the hard pressed motorist and taxpayer, I thought when we got rid of the last labour government we would see the back of stealth taxes how gullible we are I agree with one of the comments cut the wages of all MPs Judges and High ranking Civil Servants, also another way to save money reduce the number of MPs to 400.

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    when i first passed my test in 1978, my license was valid until the day before my 70th birthday, not for ten years.....why and when did this change? oh yea......20 quid a time silly me

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    I have a paper licence issued by the DVLC that says "Valid to 19 08 2023".
    that i like many other people have paid for. But i don't think they will issue me with free updates to that date. Damn government agencies screwing money out of people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    A possible nice little earner here for someone....Watch out folks if you haven't changed your licence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    " People should stop whinging and consider how much a privilege it is to be able to drive."

    Why do you think this I wonder? Seems a pretty basic entitlement to me...like having kids or getting and education. It is one of the things people do....and in some cases, need to do, if they want a life or a job.

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    I got a photo licence when I moved nearly 10 years ago but did not realise they expired until I read this story. There is an expiry date on the front in very small type but you have to read the note on the back in even smaller type to realise this is an expiry date. If this were a contract it probably would not be enforceable due to the size of the type. A badly designed document.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    The everyday, hard working, law abiding citizen is treated like a criminal and excessively fined if they... and I quote "fail to update their photo-card driving licences".

    What a load of tosh. This is one of those things where if non-greedy commonsense actually existed, people would get a kindly worded reminder if they are unaware of this rule.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    This hasn't been publicised well enough, and to leap straight in with fines is crass.

    I had no idea that my photo licence had expired until I went to book a rental car and the website told me. "No it hasn't", I thought... yes it had, it appears/
    We get a reminder one month before the car tax runs out - how come we don't get a reminder for the licence?

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    @40 (madmum)

    You paid to learn how to pass a driving test.... you learned to drive for free. Car tax has in fact gone down not up, unless you own a Chelsea tractor. Your insurance went up because as a woman you wanted equality, and now you've got it. Your MOT is the yearly check that your car is roadworthy... what's not to like?

    @47 (Jan-Ann) You know now. So do something about it.


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