What older people need to know about new driving licence changes
From 8 June 2015, new changes come into play concerning driving licences in the England, Scotland and Wales (Northern Ireland is not affected).
If your older parent is still driving, you might need to explain the key changes to them, so we’ve put together this summary to help.
No more paper counterparts
The biggest change is that the paper counterpart to the photocard driving licence is no longer valid and will no longer be issued by the DVLA. In future, when updating or renewing a driving licence, drivers will only be issued with a photocard.
The paper counterpart was introduced in 1998 to display details that could not be included on the photocard, such as endorsements and penalty points. This information is now held by the DVLA electronically and can be checked online, by phone or post.
Pre-1998 paper licences still valid
Around 7 million drivers in Britain still hold a traditional paper driving licence issued before the photocard and paper counterpart system was introduced.
If your older parent or relative has a paper licence, then they need to understand how penalty points will now be recorded and how they can be viewed. Paper licences remain valid until they expire (when the driver reaches 70 years of age) and will then be replaced with a photocard licence.
How to view penalty points and disqualifications
From now on, penalty points and other information, such as disqualifications, will be stored electronically on each driver’s record kept by the DVLA.
Drivers can view all the information that would previously be recorded on their driving licence paper counterpart (or on their traditional paper licence) online at the GOV.UK website here. This link also provides information on how to request driver record information by phone or post, which could be useful if your older parent isn’t comfortable using a computer.
Renewing a driving licence for those aged 70+
Driving licences automatically expire once you reach the age of 70 and if you wish to continue to drive, then you must renew your licence. From then on, you must continue to renew it every three years.
The DVLA automatically sends a reminder by post about 90 days prior to the licence expiry date and this will include a D46P form so you can apply for a licence renewal by post. This usually takes around three weeks.
If you don’t receive the reminder, you can call the DVLA form ordering service on 0300 790 6801. You can also obtain a D1 application form from a Post Office.
There is no charge for renewing your licence once you reach the age of 70. Drivers aged less than 70 are normally charged £20.
If your older parent has a computer, it’s very easy to renew a driving licence online by registering on the GOV.UK website here and completing a D1 form. This takes around one week.
Beware scam websites & emails
Renewing a driving licence in the UK is FREE for drivers aged 70 and over. Unfortunately, in recent years third party websites offering to handle driving licence renewals for a fee have sprung up and often appear as Google ads at the top of the web search results. If you see an ad offering to renew a licence for someone over 70 for a fee, it is a scam.
If your older parent or relative uses a computer, then do make sure they understand that the official DVLA pages are ONLY found on the www.gov.uk website. Alert them to the dangers of clicking on money-making third party sites that offer to handle licence renewals for you.
Another scam to be aware of is via email. In this case, drivers may be asked to verify their driving licence details by clicking on a link. The DVLA does not do this and your older parent needs to know that they should ignore such requests. The only secure way of dealing directly with the DVLA is via the GOV.UK website.
Remember to declare health conditions
Motorists must tell the DVLA if they develop certain medical conditions or risk paying a fine of up to £1,000. A full list of medical conditions you must report can be found here.
The DVLA may refer drivers to a doctor and if the required standards of driving cannot be met, drivers may have to surrender their licences. Doctors may also do sight and hearing tests. For information on driving eyesight rules see here. Sometimes driving ability has to be assessed and the DVLA will refer drivers to a Mobility Centre.
The RAC Foundation says there are more than four million motorists in Britain aged over 70 and this will continue to rise as the baby boomer generation reaches retirement age. There are also nearly 200 motorists aged 100 or over still driving!
If your older parent is in good physical and mental health and is still able to drive safely, then age need not be a barrier to motoring. Driving can be a vital part of an older person’s independence and making the decision to stop driving can be very difficult and they will need good support to make the right decision.
The RAC and Rica (a research charity that provides information for older and disabled consumers) have produced a very useful guide called Driving Safely For Life, specifically designed to help older motorists keep safe and drive for as long as possible. You may find this a useful starting point.
Other useful myageingparent.com articles:
Renewing a driving licence at 70 in the UK: https://www.gov.uk/renew-driving-licence-at-70
Renewing a driving licence in Northern Ireland: http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/renewing-your-driving-licence-at-70-plus
To view your driver record online:: https://www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence
Research Institute for Consumer Affairs (Rica) motoring Guides : http://www.rica.org.uk/content/motoring