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The new system for driving licences from 8th June

If you’re an individual, you’re likely to welcome the new system which removes the paper counterpart from 8th June. If you’re trying to run a business which relies on drivers, your view is likely to be very different.

The planned free alternative for employers to check licences after the 8th June involves the following process:

  • Employer asks the employee to see his/her driving licence
  • Employee needs to log into View My Licence (VML), via Gov.UK (also referred to as View Driver Record)
  • Employee is able to print a PDF of the counterpart details and provide that to employer, or
  • The Employee can provide the Employer with an Access code (generated by the system) which is valid for 72 hours. The employer will be able to use the code via a site called Share my Licence (Gov.Uk) to view the driver’s counterpart details. To access this site the employer will need the access code and the last 8 digits of the driver licence number.

On of the issues with the new system is that only the holder of the licence is allowed to use the system to check their licence. This means that written permission cannot be given to the employer to check on their behalf – they must only do this using the access code. This therefore relies on the drivers themselves being able to access (and use) the internet. Many drivers are not internet savvy and some have never turned on a computer. Unless it is possible to have the driver there when the check is carried out, the operator will have to use one of the other methods below which aren’t free.

One such option is to get the driver to sign a mandate and then use one of the many EDECS (Electronic Driver Enquiry Check) intermediaries to carry out the check. Quite why employers are not allowed to do this themselves is questionable. Although the DVLA may say that EDECs (unlike employers) are regulated and checked by them, the same information is then passed to the employer; in theory to do what he/she likes with. The sceptical amongst us may consider that this is due to DVLA being able to charge the intermediaries an additional fee rather than a genuine attempt to protect sensitive information.

If for any reason you cannot get access to the internet to use the new system, operators will have to use the postal method to request the details, which is explained on the government website. However this will cost you £5 per request and will apparently take around two weeks. This is obviously going to have a huge impact on a driver’s ability to work. Anyone who’s made a postal request, will obviously have the DVLA’s response to show to enforcement officers if there’s ever an issue.

Operators can also use the DVLA’s premium rate telephone number to conduct a check. This will set you back 51p per minute with the average call cost estimated at £3. It’s difficult to evidence a check via phone so if this system is used, a detailed record should be made of the time of the call, the name and/or team number of the person who was spoken to and the details obtained.

What should be done with the driving licence information?

Once the information is obtained, it is important is that the transport manager makes use of the information on the licence properly. In particular, the expiry date of the licence itself and of any entitlements. Be clear about what their licence actually entitles them to drive or you face being prosecuted for using a vehicle without insurance and also permitting driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence. Be particularly alert if a regular driver suddenly has to drive a different sized vehicle than usual, as this is often when operators get caught out.

Frequency

There’s no specific rule as to how often to check driving licences. However they must be checked before allowing them to drive a vehicle for the first time. Thereafter, it’s sensible to check them at least every six months.

Data Protection

To comply with data protection, ( as with all personal information) operators should ensure the information is kept somewhere secure, is only used for the legitimate purpose it was obtained, and that it is only kept as long as necessary. Therefore if a driver leaves, you should dispose of his/her information securely.

Checking Agency Drivers’Licences

If you’re using agency drivers and the agency can provide you with evidence of a recent check then get them to provide you with a copy for your own records. Otherwise, unless you’ve seen it with your own eyes, you really need to do the check yourself. Whilst there may be a civil claim against the agency if they give the wrong information, it’s not going to provide you with a defence against prosecution.

Issues!!!

Endorsements will no longer be added to paper counterparts, so Operators can no longer rely on them to determine whether a driver is able to drive. The new system must now be used even if the driver has a counterpart.

Non UK licence holders’ details cannot be accessed via the online system! Therefore the only way an employer is able to access that information is via the premium rate telephone number.

The system is that it won’t tell you if the driver has a medical condition which means that his/her entitlement to drive is being reviewed. Obviously until such time as a decision is made, the driver can continue to drive as per the VML details but operators won’t automatically be notified if an adverse decision is made.

To protect themselves, operators should have a clause in their employment contract requiring Drivers to notify them immediately of any new endorsements or medical conditions which may affect their ability to drive.

How the costs can add up

Whilst the use of the online system is free, it relies on the driver to instigate the process. The cost of obtaining this information if you don’t have access to the internet can be very costly if you have a number of drivers.

 

DVLA Premium phone line51p per minute (ave £3 per call)
Fee paying enquiry£5
Licence checking intermediaryVaries

I wonder if this is going to make transport managers/operators reluctant to carry out checks?

Mobile phone offence