United Kingdom Driving license


United Kingdom Driving license

In the United Kingdom, a driving license is the official document which authorities its holder to operate motor vehicles on highways and other public roads. It is administered in England, Scotland and Wales by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and in Northern Ireland by the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA). A driving license is required in England, Scotland, and Wales for any person driving a vehicle on any highway or other “road”, as defined in s.192 Road Traffic Act 1988, irrespective of the ownership of the land over which the road passes. Similar requirements apply in Northern Ireland under the Road Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order 1981. As long as Great Britain and Northern Ireland remains within the European Union, a UK driving license is a European driving license.

As UK nationals do not normally have identity cards, a photographic driving license can serve many of the purposes of an identity card in non-driving contexts, such as proof of identity (e.g. when opening a bank account) or of age (e.g. when buying age-restricted goods such as alcohol or tobacco).

Provisional licenses and learner drivers

Applications for a provisional driving license can be made in the UK from the age of 15 years and 9 months. Once a United Kingdom driving test has been passed, the driving license is valid for driving a moped or light quad bike from age 16, and a car from age 17, or 16 for those who receive, or have applied for, the higher or enhanced rate of the mobility component of PIP or DLA. A driving test consists of three sections: theory, hazard perception and a supervised driving examination. Until this test has been passed, a driver may hold only a provisional license and is subject to certain conditions.

The conditions attached to provisional licenses for a particular category of vehicle are
L-plates or (in Wales only) D-plates (Welsh: Dysgwr) must be conspicuously displayed on the front and rear of the vehicle.
Learner drivers of a particular category and transmission type of vehicle must be accompanied by somebody aged 21 or above who has held a full driving license for that category and transmission type for at least three years, except in the case of solo motorcycles and vehicles of certain categories designed solely for one person.
No trailer may be towed, except when driving a tractor or where a full license gives provisional entitlement to drive a car with trailer, large goods vehicle with trailer or passenger carrying vehicle with trailer.
Motorcycle riders must not carry any pillion passengers.
Coach or bus drivers must not carry any passenger except a person giving or receiving instruction.
Motorways must not be used by holders of car and motorcycle provisional licenses, excluding category B (car) license holders who are learner drivers for the purposes of the trailer category BE, or unless supervised by an Approved Driving Instructor

In Northern Ireland, learner drivers are limited to a speed of 45 mph (72 km/h), and drivers who have passed their test within the previous year must display R plates (restricted) and are also limited to a speed of 45 mph (72 km/h) until the expiry of the restricted period. R plates are similar in style to L plates, with a thick-set dark orange R displayed on a white background.

After passing a driving test, the provisional license may be surrendered within two years in exchange for a full UK license for the relevant kind of vehicle. Full car licenses allow use of mopeds and motorcycles provided a CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) course is completed (the requirement to have a CBT in Northern Ireland was introduced on 21 February 2011).
Newly qualified drivers

There are no restrictions on newly qualified drivers in England, Wales or Scotland, but if a newly qualified driver receives six penalty points within two years of passing, the license is automatically revoked and the driver must pass the full test again. These six points remain on the new license until their designated expiry time.
Towing restrictions

The rules on what a driver can tow are different depending on when they passed their driving test. If they passed their car driving test on or after 1 January 1997, they may drive a car or van up to 3,500 kg maximum authorized mass (MAM) towing a trailer of up to 750 kg MAM, and they may tow a trailer over 750 kg MAM as long as the combined MAM of the trailer and towing vehicle is no more than 3,500 kg MAM when loaded. They must pass the car and trailer driving test to tow anything heavier. If a driver passed their car test before 1 January 1997, they are usually allowed to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8,250 kg MAM. They are also allowed to drive a minibus with a trailer over 750 kg MAM.

Other regulations

Motor car licenses issued in the United Kingdom distinguish between automatic and manual transmission vehicles, depending on whether or not a driving test was passed in a vehicle with manual transmission (unless a vehicle test was taken in the UK before such distinction was made). While a manual transmission vehicle license permits the holder to drive a vehicle of either kind, an automatic transmission vehicle license is solely for vehicles with automatic transmission. The license also shows whether a driver requires glasses or contact lenses to meet the legal driving requirements, if known.

Drivers who obtained rights to drive category D1 minibuses before 1997 (by passing a test for the obsolete class A) must not drive such vehicles for hire or reward, nor accept any form of payment in money, goods or kind from any passengers carried.

There is no maximum age for driving or holding a driving license, but holders must renew their licenses at age 70 and every three years thereafter, at which times they must self-certify their continued fitness to drive.

Forklift trucks require a separate license, issued by third-party training companies rather than the DVLA or DSA.

The Union Flag has been included on GB licenses since July 2015, but not on Northern Ireland licenses.

Points and endorsements

The UK uses a cumulative points system for driving offenses. Points are added for driving offenses by law courts or where the driver accepts a fixed penalty in lieu of prosecution, and the license is endorsed accordingly. A UK driving license may be endorsed for various offenses, not only for those committed while driving or in charge of a vehicle. If the individual committing the offense does not hold a valid driver’s license the endorsements may be put by until a license is held.

Most endorsements remain valid for four years; some (such as driving under the influence) are recorded on the license for 11 years because more severe penalties apply to those convicted twice within 10 years of drink or drug driving offenses.

Twelve points on the license within three years makes the driver liable to disqualification under the “totting-up” procedure; however this is not automatic and must be decided on by a court of law. Endorsements remain on the license for one year, longer than their validity (three or ten years), because a court can consider points awarded even though they are not valid for ‘totting up’.
Driving license codes

Certain codes are included on driving licenses to indicate restrictions on use. These codes are listed on the back of the card under the column headed “12. Codes” and are listed for each category that is licensed.

As long as the UK remains within the EU, these codes are the same than those for the EU, currently defined by DIRECTIVE 2006/126/EC.

The codes and their meanings are as follows:
01 – eyesight correction
02 – hearing/communication aid
10 – modified transmission
15 – modified clutch
20 – modified braking systems
25 – modified accelerator systems
30 – combined braking and accelerator systems ( licenses issued before 28 November 2016)
31 – pedal adaptations and pedal safeguards
32 – combined service brake and accelerator systems
33 – combined service brake, accelerator and steering systems
35 – modified control layouts
40 – modified steering
42 – modified rear-view mirror(s)
43 – modified driving seats
44 – modifications to motorcycles
44 (1) – single operated brake
44 (2) – (adjusted) hand operated brake (front wheel)
44 (3) – (adjusted) foot operated brake (back wheel)
44 (4) – (adjusted) accelerator handle
44 (5) – (adjusted) manual transmission and manual clutch
44 (6) – (adjusted) rear-view mirror(s)
44 (7) – (adjusted) commands (direction indicators, braking light, etc.)
44 (8) – seat height allowing the driver, in sitting position, to have 2 feet on the road at the same time
45 – motorcycles only with sidecar
46 – tricycles only (for licenses issued before 29 June 2014)
70 – exchange of license
71 – duplicate of license
78 – restricted to vehicles with automatic transmission
79 – restricted to vehicles in conformity with the specifications stated in brackets on the license
79.02 – restricted to category AM vehicles of the 3-wheel or light quadriplegic type
79.03 – restricted to tricycles
96 – allowed to drive a vehicle and trailer where the trailer weighs at least 750 kg, and the combined weight of the vehicle and trailer is between 3,500 kg and 4,250 kg
97 – not allowed to drive category C1 vehicles which are required to have a tachograph fitted
101 – not for hire or reward (that is, not to make a profit)
102 – drawbar trailers only
103 – subject to certificate of competence
105 – vehicle not more than 5.5 metres long
106 – restricted to vehicles with automatic transmissions
107 – not more than 8,250 kilogrammes
108 – subject to minimum age requirements
110 – limited to transporting persons with restricted mobility
111 – limited to 16 passenger seats
113 – limited to 16 passenger seats except for automatics
114 – with any special controls required for safe driving
115 – organ donor
118 – start date is for earliest entitlement
119 – weight limit(s) for vehicle do(es) not apply
121 – restricted to conditions specified in the Secretary of State’s notice
122 – valid on successful completion: Basic Moped Training Course
125 – tricycles only (for licences issued before 29 June 2014)

Use as proof of identity

Identity cards for UK nationals were introduced in 2009 on a voluntary basis, and the attempt to introduce a nationwide identity-card scheme in 2010 was reversed mid-course. Its in-progress database was halted and then destroyed. Only workers in certain high-security professions, such as airport workers, were required to have an identity card in 2009, and this remains the case today. Therefore, driving licenses, particularly the photo card driving license introduced in 1998, along with passports, are the most widely used ID documents in the United Kingdom. Most people do not carry their passports with them; this leaves driving licenses as the only valid form of ID to be presented. In day-to-day life there is no legal requirement to carry identification whilst driving or otherwise, and most authorities do not arbitrarily ask for identification from individuals.

Non-professional drivers are not legally obliged to carry a driving license while driving, but section 164 of the Road Traffic Act 1998 allows a police officer to require a driver to produce a driving license within seven days at a police station chosen by the driver. The form which was once issued in such circumstances, the HO/RT 1, was known colloquially as “a producer”, as exemplified in Smiley Culture’s hit single “Police Officer”.