TABLE OF CONTENTS
Scroll down for even more related information
What is Section 88 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and how does it affect your right to drive if you're waiting for your driving licence?
Section 88 is a section of the Road Traffic Act 1988 that could give you the green light to continue driving even though your current driving licence has expired. In reality, this will apply when you have applied to the DVLA to have your driving licence renewed but it runs out while the agency is processing your application. You must meet the following criteria demanded by Section 88 to continue driving.
To continue driving under Section 88, the DVLA states you must meet all of the following criteria:
- Your doctor must have told you that you are fit to drive. If your doctor is unsure about how a medical condition affects driving, they should refer to ‘Assessing fitness to drive – a guide for medical professionals’ at www.gov.uk/dvla/fitnesstodrive
- You have held a valid driving licence (see *below) and only drive vehicles you have applied for on your current application and were entitled to drive on your previous licence.
- If you hold a Group 2 (bus or lorry) licence, your entitlement has not been suspended, revoked or refused by a traffic commissioner.
- You meet any conditions that were specified on your previous licence that still apply.
- DVLA has received your correct and complete application within the last 12 months.
- Your last licence was not revoked or refused for medical reasons.
- You are not currently disqualified from driving by a court.
- You were not disqualified as a high risk offender on or after 1 June 2013 (a high risk offender is a driver convicted of a serious drink driving offence).
- this licence can be a full GB licence, a GB provisional licence, a European Community licence, a Northern Ireland licence, a British external/British Forces licence or an exchangeable licence.
Subscribe for free motoring and travel news here - support independent journalism
If your driving licence has expired, either due to your age or the photocard being ten years old, you can only keep driving if you have submitted a valid application for a new licence through the DVLA and comply with the terms of Section 88 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, as mentioned above.
If you continue to drive with an expired licence and have not applied for a new one, you could face a fine of up to £1,000. Doing so could also mean your motor insurance could be invalidated, leaving you liable for damages in the event of collision, along with a fixed penalty of £300 and 6 penalty points.
More than 900,000 people have an expired licence and risk £1,000 fine
The DVLA has reminded people who passed their driving test in 2014, that they will need to renew their licence in 2024 or face a £1,000 fine - as the majority of photocard driving licence photocards expire after 10 years. However, the problem is far more widespread than drivers who passed their test in 2014.
Figures from the DVLA in 2022, the agency responsible for issuing UK driving licences, revealed that 926,000 people held photocard driving licences on 3 September that had expired in the past year.
And while the DVLA will send a reminder in the months before licences are due to expire, data from the previous 12 months reveals around 2.5 million people only got round to renewing their licence after it had expired or within 56 days of the expiry date.
This also highlights how many drivers could also be breaking the law by driving on a licence with the incorrect address registered.
As discussed in this article, most people will be able to continue driving while they wait for their new licence to arrive, providing they have not been told not to on health grounds, or are waiting for a health assessment to be carried out.
Philip Gomm head of external communications at the RAC Foundation said: "Renewal also provides an opportunity for people to assess whether they are still fit to drive, and we think there is an argument for linking a compulsory eye test to the process to make sure we all remain safe on the road, though Government should help keep costs as low as possible for motorists."
Do I have to renew a paper licence every ten years?
Drivers who still have the green or pink paper licences will not need to renew these licences every ten years - but will need to if they move to a new address or have medical issues that affect their ability to drive.
What's the penalty for driving if your licence is refused on health grounds?
If you have been banned from driving, you can apply for a physical licence to be issued up to 90 days before the ban expires. However, it is possible that delays and industrial action at the DVLA could leave you without a new driving licence when the disqualification comes to an end. In such a case, the same rules apply as described above - you can start driving again before the new document arrives, providing you have not been told you are unfit to do so or don't meet any of the other criteria listed above.
You cannot drive until the disqualification ends even if your new licence arrives before this time.
You will need to have received your first provisional driving licence before you can start to drive a car while accompanied, or a moped or other vehicle covered by the licence.
If you are renewing a provisional licence, you should contact the DVLA for information on your ability to drive while waiting for the licence to arrive.
You can drive as soon as the DVLA receives your application, if you meet the criteria set by Section 88. If you are concerned about a new or existing medical condition and how it could impact on your driving, speak with your doctor or contact the DVLA for more information.
Take a look at more of our top motoring-related content here...
How long does it take to get my driving licence from the DVLA?
The DVLA has updated its advice on how long it will take to get a new driving licence if it has expired, is a new application or has been lost or stolen. The time it will take to get your new photocard driving licence depends on how you apply. The following guidelines cover the various options.
POSTAL APPLICATIONS: Applicants are being asked to allow 2-3 weeks for their documents to be posted if applying by post. The DVLA says applicants should not call within those 4 weeks as their application will be processing and it will not be able to provide further information.
ONLINE APPLICATIONS: If you made an online applications for a licence, you should expect it to be processed and dispatched in five days - providing medical clearance or further details are not required.
FIRST APPLICATION OR MEDICAL CONDITIONS: If you have applied for your first driving licence, or to renew or replace your current driving licence with a declared a medical condition, receiving your licence will take longer. The DVLA has said don't contact staff for an update as it will be in touch as soon as a licensing decision has been made or if more information is needed from a medical professional.
The most important advice is to check that you have added all the correct information and any documentation required, or your application will be delayed beyond the standard delivery times.
Section 88, which allows many people to continue driving without currently being in possession of a licence, is UK legislation so there is the possibility it will not be accepted in other countries. This could leave you driving illegally when abroad, so always check with the licensing authority in the country you are visiting before you travel.
Unlike the UK, if you are heading to EU countries on holiday or business, you will need to carry your driving licence when in the bloc. Failure to do so could result in a fine or having your vehicle impounded.
You should also check what other driving documentation you may need to drive abroad, such as an international driving permit or green card for insurance.
Do I need to carry my licence in the UK when driving?
How to contact DVLA live Chat
- Monday to Friday, 8am to 7pm
- Saturdays, 8am to 2pm
- Public holidays, Closed
Other ways to get in touch with the DVLA include the following socials and email:
- Address: Driver Customer Services, Correspondence Team, DVLA, Swansea, SA6 7JL
- Twitter: @DVLAgovuk
- LinkedIn: Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)
- Instagram: @Dvlagov
- Facebook: @DVLAGovUK
- Email: email@example.com
DVLA opening hours Christmas and new year 2023/24
|Date||Contact centre opening times|
|Monday 19 December||8am to 7pm|
|Tuesday 20 December||8am to 7pm|
|Wednesday 21 December||8am to 7pm|
|Thursday 22 December||8am to 7pm|
|Friday 23 December||8am to 5.30pm|
|Christmas Eve 24 December||closed|
|Christmas Day 25 December||closed|
|Boxing Day 26 December||closed|
|Tuesday 27 December||closed|
|Wednesday 28 December||8am to 5.30pm|
|Thursday 29 December||8am to 5.30pm|
|Friday 30 December||8am to 5.30pm|
|New Year’s Eve 31 December||8am to 2pm|
|New Year’s Day 1 January 2023||closed|
|Monday 2 January||closed|
|Tuesday 3 January||8am to 7pm|
Drivers with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and some heart conditions must be passed as fit to drive by a qualified doctor. But with the DVLA receiving 603,000 medical notifications in 2020-2021, the combination of pandemic delays and industrial action has led to many people missing out on the ability to carry on driving.
In a bid to tackle the huge waiting lists and cut delays for many who rely on the ability to drive, the DVLA launched a consultation looking at whether such medical assessments can be signed off by medical staff other than qualified doctors.
The consultation has resulted in the bringing forward of legislation to do just this, which will help speed up the return of medical information needed to make decisions on issuing licences - helping to tackle the backlog brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and industrial action.
The proposed law change will mean that any healthcare professional registered with the Councils below will be legally allowed to complete DVLA’s medical questionnaires:
- The General Chiropractic Council
- The General Medical Council
- The General Optical Council
- The General Osteopathic Council
- The Nursing and Midwifery Council
- The Health and Care Professions Council
The original consultation can be seen here: Amending the Road Traffic Act 1988 to allow Registered Healthcare Professionals to complete DVLA medical questionnaires.
Transport Minister Baroness Vere said: "Changing this law makes sense. Doing so will safely improve the application process for hundreds of thousands of motorists across the country, whilst easing the pressure on our doctors and consultants. It’s great to see these important proposals progress into law."
Check when your licence is due to expire by taking a look at section 4b on the front of your driving licence photocard. This will tell you the date when the document expires - so could save you from receiving a fine.
How to renew your driving licence online or by post
If you find that your licence has expired, you should get it renewed as soon as possible as you will not be able to drive until the DVLA has your new application - when, in most cases you can continue to drive while you wait for your licence to be processed and sent out to you - see top section of this page.
The quickest way to renew an expired licence is online - which can be done here. You will need a valid passport to renew the licence online.
Alternatively, you can send off a postal application. You will need to do the following:
Obtain ‘D1 pack’ of forms from a Post Office that can facilitate DVLA photocard renewal or vehicle tax.
You will then need to include the following documentation with your completed forms:
- a recent passport type photo (do not sign the back of the photo)
- your current photocard licence, if you have it
- a cheque or postal order for £17, payable to DVLA (no fee is needed if you have a medical short period licence or you’re aged 70 or over)
Also send identity documents if you’ve changed your name.
Send all of the completed forms and supporting documents to:
There are currently delays of about 10 weeks to renew an expired licence in this way.
Finally, you can apply for a licence directly at a participating Post Office - you can find your nearest branch that can process the application here.
Take your driving licence renewal reminder letter, your photocard licence and a £21.50 fee to have it renewed.
Can I speak to a person at the DVLA about where my driving licence is?
Telephone: 0300 790 6801
Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm
Saturdays, 8am to 4pm
Did I previously get an 11-month extension to my photocard licence?
My photocard driving licence expired after 31 December 2020:
If your licence expired after 31 December 2020 you will need to apply to have it renewed as normal. There is no automatic extension for licences that expired after 31 December 2020.
My photocard driving licence expired between 1 February and 31 December 2020:
The DVLA's strategic plan for 2021-2024 has confirmed that it will be moving towards the implementation of digital licences held on a mobile phone app.
Announcing the plan, then-Transport Secretary Grant Shapps tweeted: "We will introduce digital driving licences – moving provisional cards online."
The DVLA's strategic plan states: “We will introduce a digital driving licence for provisional drivers and also start to build a customer account facility.
“This will ultimately give our customers personalised, easy and secure access to a range of services and allow them more choice in how they transact with us.
“Our services will be secure, scalable and resilient and we will continue to explore and expand the use of emerging technologies.”
No new information has been released about digital driving licences as of December 2022.
Look out for DVLA copycat websites charging you to renew your driving licence
Subscribe for free motoring and travel news from PeteBarden.co.uk
Author: Pete Barden:
Pete Barden is a qualified journalist who has written and produced for publications including The Sun (thesun.co.uk), New Statesman Media Group, Whatcar? (Whatcar.com) Stuff Magazine (Stuff.tv), Fastcar Magazine (Fastcar.co.uk), Maxim Magazine and UK broadcast stations within the Heart network (Formerly GCAP). Pete specialises in motoring and travel content, along with news and production roles. You can find out more about Pete Barden on LinkedIn.
Read all articles by Pete Barden