Record number caught cheating on driving tests

By Connor Gillies

Driving testImage source, Getty Images

A record number of people have been caught trying to cheat on their driving tests, BBC Scotland has found.

There were 889 cases of theory and practical exam fraud across the UK in 2018/19, compared to 755 in 2014/15.

Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) figures showed a steep increase in recent years - 158 impersonation cases were detected in 2004.

The agency believes better detection is a factor in the increasing numbers caught trying to cheat.

Some criminals pay hundreds of pounds to cheat the system.

Many use driver impersonation - where stand-ins take tests in place of learners. Others have corrupt instructors who provide the correct theory test answers in exchange for cash.

Fraudsters should expect prison time if caught

One of Scotland's most senior counter-fraud inspectors with the Driving Vehicle Standards Authority (DVSA) said his team is "getting better" at catching criminals.

Mark Dunnery, who is based in Perth, said those caught could face prison: "There can be complex cases involving a gang of people that are going around the country.

"We had one recently where the person asked a friend to go and sit his theory test for him because he couldn't be bothered leaving his work. This man was found guilty and sentenced to two months in prison."

Image caption,
Mark Dunnery said fraudsters can expect prison sentences if caught

Mr Dunnery added: "At the theory test centre we have CCTV which can identify whether the person is acting suspiciously.

"The message to anyone that is thinking about doing this is it won't be tolerated. We are on top of that regularly and we're having more effective results year on year. The chances are you'll go to prison."

Driving down a 'dangerous path'

Motoring experts told the BBC some people pay about £800 for someone else to take their theory test, or about £1,600 to be impersonated in the practical test.

Image caption,
Neil Greig said it costs more to cheat than to learn to drive

Neil Greig, from IAM Roadsmart, said: "It's ironic. If you paid that money for a driving instructor then you could perfectly legally get yourself a driving licence.

"We think it is very dangerous because there is clear evidence that people who are driving illegally are more likely to be involved in hit-and-run accidents. It invalidates their insurance and MOT.

"Once you start driving illegally it does lead you down a bit of a dangerous path for other drivers as well."