Coronavirus: Over 70s face licence renewal confusion

Published 01 May 2020

Thousands of drivers risk being fined £1000 or having their licence revoked because of problems with the DVLA licence renewal system.

Desperate motorists have accused the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) of ignoring their pleas for help, as many face the stark choice of using their car for essential journeys without a valid licence or staying at home and relying on friends and family for food and medicine.

The problem is likely to affect the over-70s the most, with many telling HonestJohn.co.uk via Ask HJ they are unable to renew their licence or obtain any help from the DVLA. 

If you’re over 70 you must renew your driving licence every three years. If you have certain medical conditions - like glaucoma - you must meet the minimum eyesight requirement to renew your licence, which often requires an eye test. However, HonestJohn.co.uk has received reports that many are unable to get the required field of vision test due to opticians being closed under the coronavirus lockdown.

Drivers are also legally required to renew their photocard driving licence every 10 years, but vulnerable motorists have told HonestJohn.co.uk that they are unable to get the required passport photo for the renewal because they are self-isolating. 

The DVLA website states that its newly-reduced opening hours of the call centre are Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm. However, it further notes, "Please only contact DVLA if your query is urgent and you are directly involved in the nation’s response as a Key Worker to COVID-19. Our staff will not be able to respond to other queries at this time."

The DVLA website states: "It is taking longer than usual to process driving licence applications because of coronavirus (COVID-19)."

Readers have told HonestJohn.co.uk that they are unable to contact the DVLA or get any reply to emails. Many are now fearful that their licences will soon be invalid or revoked. 

HonestJohn.co.uk has contacted the DVLA for comment.

Comments

conman    on 4 May 2020

If the government can consider releasing prisoners early, extend MOT's for 6 months . Surely someone who has common sense can extend 70 + licences for a further 6 month's, highlighting the point if you would fail the medical test and found to have caused an accident or offence you will be prosecuted.

   on 4 May 2020

Only in the UK would you get this sort of bureaucracy, by living in Spain, one gets 5 year licence for over 70's, then every 5 years. Simple.

VINCENT MILLARD    on 5 May 2020

Only in the UK would you get this sort of bureaucracy, by living in Spain, one gets 5 year licence for over 70's, then every 5 years. Simple.

Are you still in Spain?

If you came Home to take advantage of the NHS then you must live by the Laws in the UK.

Acrorat    on 4 May 2020

A few months ago the DVLA sent a licence renewal letter to my late husband [who died 15 years ago] but did not send one to me [I am 10 days younger than him].

I did try to renew my licence at that time, but wasn't allowed as it was apparently too soon.

I will be 70 in July, so do I try to renew again, given that my licence is a paper one, and I can't get a photo or an eye test?

VINCENT MILLARD    on 5 May 2020

A few months ago the DVLA sent a licence renewal letter to my late husband [who died 15 years ago] but did not send one to me [I am 10 days younger than him]. I did try to renew my licence at that time, but wasn't allowed as it was apparently too soon. I will be 70 in July, so do I try to renew again, given that my licence is a paper one, and I can't get a photo or an eye test?

Please see Otter Valley.

Maxonian    on 4 May 2020

Mine is waiting for Doctor and Specialist reports from people who at present have better and more important things to do.

VINCENT MILLARD    on 5 May 2020

Mine is waiting for Doctor and Specialist reports from people who at present have better and more important things to do.

As the cases of C19 come down (as they are). It is worth checking in to ask if they are reopening the Clinics.

I do know that some Clinics around this NHS Trust are reopening.

Lucha    on 4 May 2020

I have had to apply for a new licence, as I am 70. I sent all my documents in, along with my application form and photo etc.
This was sent off on the 12th of March and I'm still waiting!

I realise after reading this article that there is a delay, because of the Covid-19 lockdown but I would have thought that, at least I would have got some acknowledgement from them.

Does anyone have any idea, what should be my next move, or to just wait and see?

Thanks
Carol

VINCENT MILLARD    on 5 May 2020

You did everything you were supposed to and IN GOOD FAITH!

VINCENT MILLARD    on 5 May 2020

See Otter Valley, very encouraging!

Also it is always worth keeping Photocopies of your Licence incase you have to send it back.

I know it isn't Legally binding but it shows that you "Acted in all good faith"!

conman    on 12 May 2020

read Road traffic Act 1988 section 88.

you can carry on driving if you have made an application to the DVLA and are waiting for the licence.

David Finch    on 4 May 2020

Just going through this thread. Attached to the Honest John site a scam ad came up to obtain a driving license without a test . Language and punctuation is poor so it is definitely a scam.
Honest John s people ought to look into this a bit sharp.

hissingsid    on 5 May 2020

Just going through this thread. Attached to the Honest John site a scam ad came up to obtain a driving license without a test . Language and punctuation is poor so it is definitely a scam. Honest John s people ought to look into this a bit sharp.

When I logged onto this site a few days ago, my internet security provider flashed up this red warning on the home page "We tested this page and blocked content that comes from potentially dangerous or suspicious sites". I immediately reported this to HJ but have received no response.

Palcouk    on 11 May 2020

Nothing to do with HJ, its your browser and the lack of ad protection

otter valley    on 5 May 2020

Hello,

I have just renewed my driving licence with my 70th birthday looming in two weeks time. I can say that I got warnings about delays due to staff shortage caused by the Coronavirus outbreak.

The driving licence is valid for three years and I must renew again. I had declared Cataracts and was told about the need to watch this viz driving and given the medical stuff about this from DVLA.

As to delays DVLA has said that people can carry on driving and if stopped say that the DVLA are considering their renewal. Cannot give you the link to that but it was in one of their recent bulletins

From an email there was a DVLA contact number given: 0300 790 6801
It is there contact centre number I believe.

Regards
Brian

Lancashireguy    on 5 May 2020

I had to renew my photocard licence in December 2019, DVLA did everything it could to make it difficult, even as far as telling me I was disqualified when I wasn't, trying to charge me £65 rather than the £14 it should be, in the end it cost me £900 + Vat for a firm of solicitors to sort it out and get my licence renewed

VINCENT MILLARD    on 5 May 2020

If the government can consider releasing prisoners early, extend MOT's for 6 months . Surely someone who has common sense can extend 70 + licences for a further 6 month's, highlighting the point if you would fail the medical test and found to have caused an accident or offence you will be prosecuted.

See Otter Valley!

VINCENT MILLARD    on 5 May 2020

If the government can consider releasing prisoners early, extend MOT's for 6 months . Surely someone who has common sense can extend 70 + licences for a further 6 month's, highlighting the point if you would fail the medical test and found to have caused an accident or offence you will be prosecuted.

See Otter Valley!

VINCENT MILLARD    on 5 May 2020

See the remarks from " Otter Valley".
They should make you feel better.
And always keep records of your Licence.

amn    on 5 May 2020

common sense I am afraid is not encouraged in government rules are rules and if I follow them I will not get into trouble

Tom Scott    on 5 May 2020

My wife needs her first 70+ license with groups C1 & D1 so she can continue to drive her 7.5 tonne horsebox. Without an eye test and medical assessment she will loose these entitlements. Her license renews in June. The 1 year extension announced earlier by the DVLA does not apply to "implied entitlements". We wait patiently to see what happens.

grumpyguv    on 6 May 2020

i am facing the same problem,cannot find any information as what we are supposed to do,carry on driving without a licence ? or lose our licence because we cant renew it which isn`t our fault.

grumpyguv    6 days ago

my licence runs out in june when i reach 70yrs old, just filled out online application when you get nearly to end of application it says my expiry date is march 2022,not sure if this a mistake or its because i have c1 and d1 licence and need medical to renew which cannot get because of covid 19,no mention of this on dvla website only for under 70yr olds. anybody had same experience.

Dr David Rose    on 5 May 2020

Don't know if this is relevant at present but :-

Section 88 of The Road Traffic Act 1988 may allow you to continue driving even though you do not hold a current driving licence.
In practice, this will be when you have applied to the DVLA to renew your licence, but the licence expires (runs out) while we are processing the application.

Copied this from the relevant literature

   on 6 May 2020

Once you have applied for a renewal you allowed to drive under section 88 of the road traffic act 1988

dmo    on 6 May 2020

There are plenty of internet services that you can upload a digitial photo to and they will post out suitable passport/driving licence photos to you, the last time I used this service it cost less than £5.

ianbar    on 12 May 2020

I am coming up to 70 and applied for my licence online on 5 May. I received it on 11 May, and it probably would have arrived earlier if it were not for the postal delays over the Bank Holiday.

Wayne Burnett    on 14 May 2020

As noted by other contributors. Application is in with DVLA but no means to check status. My license has now expired so am wondering where that leaves me. I have 'Grandfather' rights vis-a-vis CI and D1 entitlements. HGV and bus drivers have had their licenses extended I believe but this does not apply as far as I know to first time renewal requiring a medical. In anticipation that any medical appointment would be cancelled, which it was, I submitted my renewal without the C1 and D1 entitlement. As has been said, it would seem sensible to simply issue an extension for renewal at 70, which only requires a self declaration as to ones health.

grumpyguv    6 days ago

hi,see my message from grumpy guv

retiredspeedmerchant    on 14 May 2020

DVLA Licencing is a nightmare. Try having a HGV licence and a notifyable health condition. A former work colleague has to renew his every 3 years. He waited 2 of the last 3 years for DVLA doctors to process it. He has to start the rigmarole again later this year. He couldn't work as insurance companies and employers will not recognise the letter of authority sent by DVLA.
At least mine was simple. Straightforward revocation and came back within a month.

Stephanie Russell    on 15 May 2020

I'm so pleased and relieved to know I'm not the only one in this position as I've literally been losing sleep over renewing my licence ahead of my 70th birthday. From where I live it's a 3 mile circular walk to my GP, pharmacy, Co-op and other amenities. I thought it was best to write to DVLA using the address given, enquiring especially if I was likely to need a new picture and the difficulty of getting one. Now I understand this office isn't currently being manned.

conman    on 16 May 2020

Hi Stephanie contact your MP the more complaints the faster the situation is resolved, as was in my case. Over 70's should be treated as a urgent case.

Stephanie Russell    on 21 May 2020

I did as you suggested and contacted my MP. I got quite a speedy reply from one of her staff team who has forwarded my concerns to DVLA although she admitted they tend to take rather a long time to reply. In the meantime the countdown to my 70th birthday begins . . .

grumpyguv    6 days ago

hi stephanie have a look at my previous message, not sure if it helps

grumpyguv

Lesley Worstencroft    2 days ago

I have checked my husband's Over 70 licence renewal application status on the DVLA site but it still says, "Awaiting application return form" This is in spite of sending the form AND then a second one with covering letter just in case the first was lost. Application was made on 20 March, and there is no way to contact them.

   18 hours ago

Michael Wilkinson

Yes, exactly the same for me. I get to the end of the online application to renew for my 73rd birthday, to be told that my driving licence and passport are invalid. Not true in either case. You can't contact the DVLA by phone or email unless you are a Key Worker, which I guess few over 70s are. The DVLA are not processing paper applications. All camera shops and photo booths are closed during the pandemic anyway, so you have great difficulty obtaining a photo. All Grant Shapps /DVLA need to do is defer the renewal date by 12 months (on the grounds that people can remember their birthdays). Just needs one line on the DVLA website. No cost to the Government. Done! How hard can it be?

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