Fleets need to resolve online driving licence checking

The deadline for the removal of the paper counterpart of the photocard driving licence on June 8 is only days away, and fleet managers need to resolve the issue of how they will check their drivers’ licences going forward.

Traditionally, the driving licence counterpart carried details of any driving offences and endorsements that drivers might have received. But its abolition means there will be no manual means of checking drivers’ licences, entitlements and endorsements after June 8.

This presents fleet operators with a duty-of-care quandary: how are they going to check whether employees are legally entitled to drive without a visible record of their driving eligibility?

The whole process will now move online and will be handled through the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) website. The Agency says it is working closely with the fleet industry to ensure that its systems and processes are ready for the changes.

Why the change?

The DVLA flagged up the abolition of the paper driving licence counterpart last year as part of a purge on unnecessary paper – and a result of the Government’s Red Tape Challenge consultation on road transportation.

Details of the changes are available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/driving-licence-changes

What do the changes mean?

Drivers who wish to access their licence information, such as penalty points, will have to do so online, by phone or via post to the DVLA.

Online, they can use the ‘View Driving Licence’ facility which is available via the Government website at https://www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence.

In time for the paper counterpart abolition, the DVLA is launching a solution for fleets called ‘Share Driving Licence’, which will allows employer and other third parties to check a driver’s licence by using a unique single use code issued to the driver.

This went live on May 20th, and drivers must give their consent for their employers to check their licence through the ‘Share Driving Licence’ online services on the Government website. This can be seen here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/dvlas-share-driving-licence-service-is-available.

Driving licence information via ‘Share Driving Licence’ will only be made available with the consent of the driving licence holder.

There are two steps. Firstly the driver goes online at https://www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence and activates the ‘share my driving licence’ section. This generates an access code, including the last eight digits of the driving licence number, which can be shared with the employer.

The employer can then use this code to check relevant licence details such as penalties or endorsements directly from the driver’s information held within the DVLA’s own driver database.

Going forward, all new penalty points will only be recorded electronically, and will not be printed or written on either photocard licences or paper driving licences.

From June 8, if drivers commit a driving offence they will still have to pay any applicable fine and submit their licence to the court in the usual way.

What problems could drivers face following abolition of the driving licence counterpart?

One issue is that of drivers booking rental vehicles for holidays abroad after the June 8 deadline. To do so, they will need a special code to access their licence online to show what endorsements they might have on their licence.

To access their details and generate the code, drivers will need:

  • their driving licence number
  • their National Insurance number
  • the postcode on their driving licence

For those who do not have internet access, a DVLA premium rate phone number is available.

Drivers will also have the option to download their driving history as a printable PDF file, although it is unclear whether all car hire firms will accept that.

Experts are concerned, however, the new system could lead to people being turned away by foreign car hire firms who may still insist on examining the paper counterpart to check for endorsements or bans.

At least one major motoring organisation is advising drivers intending to travel abroad to retain their paper counterparts. And the terms and conditions of many car rental companies still state that paper counterparts must be produced.

Why is online checking important

Switching to online checking will help fleets avoid the issues surrounding licence renewal, endorsements or verification of new and existing licences.

Rather than deterring fleets from using online licence checking services, some experts are predicting that more companies will move to using an online checking and compliance service – as data for an entire fleet is collated in a single place, cutting down administration considerably.

Should fleets leave any changes too late, it could cost them considerably in extra resources as they try to catch up.

By being fully prepared and minimising any changeover issues, fleets can take advantage of quicker and more efficient licence verification from June 8th onwards.

Why licence checking matters

It is an offence if a company allows an employee to drive a vehicle for work without a valid licence. And the Health and Safety Executive’s guide, Driving at Work, says employers should satisfy themselves that drivers are competent and capable, and asks the question: do you check the validity of the driving licence on recruitment and periodically?

More than one in every 200 company car, van and truck drivers does not hold a valid licence to legally drive their company vehicle, according to analysis by one of the licence checking organisations.

At CLM, we can provide a licence checking service to ensure all your drivers’ licences are valid for the types of vehicles they drive and that they do not have excess penalty points.

If you’d like to find out more, then please speak to your relationship manager or submit an enquiry and we’ll get back to you very soon.