The two-part driving licence was first introduced in 1998.
Since then, applicants have had to provide DVLA with a passport type photograph, which is mounted on the pink plastic card element of the licence.
What many people don’t know is that this photo card expires after 10 years.
That’s to say the photograph expires, not the entitlement to drive.
Very little has been publicised about this issue and consequently there is thought to be at least 1.4 million driving licences sporting an out-of-date photograph, which could render the drivers liable for a fine.
But the DVLA appears in no great hurry to be doing anything about it.
However, some police forces and insurance companies are aware of the problem and false information is rife.
Most people know that when they pass their driving test they’re entitled to drive a car until they’re aged 70.
If they haven’t read the small print on their license they’re probably unaware of the almost hidden information at 4(b) on the front of the photo card.
Although the photo card design changed slightly from January 19, the date at 4(b) and its explanation on the reverse of the card, remains the same.
The words are ‘licence valid to’. (DVLA website uses the words ‘the expiry date of your licence’.) And this is where confusion occurs, and where overzealous police officers and some insurance company employees have misunderstood the true meaning of the description.
Local police officers have asked me what offence, if any, is committed if a person continues to drive after the 4(b) date passes.
I’ve heard stories of such drivers being considered to have committed the endorseable offence of ‘driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence’, contrary to s.87 RTA 1988.
If this were true, the police would have power to impound any vehicle being driven at the time and impose points on the licence.
It would also mean that insurance policies would be invalid as the driver is required, under the terms of any insurance policy, to hold a valid driving licence.
For the record, the above is wrong. The correct offence is found at s.99 RTA 1988 and is ‘failing to update details on a driving licence’. This is a non-endorseable offence, carrying no points but could incur a fine.
Insurance remains in force
The licence, even with an out-of-date photo-graph, is still valid, in that the holder can continue to drive vehicles in the classes displayed on the back of their photo card right up to the date they expire (shown in column 11 on the rear of the card).
Equally, insurance policies continue to remain in force.