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Is your driving licence photo out of date?

View profile for Michael Pace
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The plastic part of the two part driving licence has a photograph upon it.

To the right of the photo at no. 4b is a date. This is the date when the photograph expires. That is all it is.

Some police forces have interpreted this date as if the licence expires on that date and are saying that after the date at 4b the licence is not valid. This if true creates the offence of ‘Driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence’ contrary to s.87.1, which is an endorseable offence and carries penalty points.

The information on the licence contradicts itself. On the back of the licence it says at 4b, ‘licence valid to’. Yet at the top of the back of the licence the expiry date for the class of vehicle is clearly stated.

As the photo must be updated every 10 years the date at 4b clearly refers to the photo only.

If you fail to update your photo you commit an offence under s.99.5 RTA 1988 (see s2a and s3). This is for failing to have the correct information on the licence.

This is a non-endorseable offence. 

A licence remains valid until such time as it is revoked by the DVLA. That is only achieved by them sending out a notice which gives the date from when the licence is no longer valid. Until that occurs, the licence is valid and so the offence under s.87.1 is not committed by the photo being out of date. That offence is committed after the date notified by the DVLA.

If you are stopped and prosecuted under s.87.1 for having an out of date photograph you should plead not guilty at court. Clearly, if the correct offence under s.99.5 is alleged you should plead guilty.

Some insurers have said that an out of date photo invalidates your vehicle insurance, because the licence is invalid. That is a flawed argument, because the licence is not invalid until the DVLA revoke it. Again, some police forces are trying to prosecute people for not having insurance because they say the licence is invalid. Again, I do not believe that is correct.

That, will not help if the police have seized your car, which they may do. Urgent legal advice should be sought from a specialist solicitor in those circumstances.