Licence Checking – Everything you need to know.

Do you check your employee's driving licences to ensure they have the correct entitlements?

No matter how short the distance, or how infrequent the journey, anyone that drives on company business needs their licence checked. This may seem like a tedious task however it’s incredibly important and failure to do so risks a fine or even a conviction should the worst happen. Here we’ll cover the basics of checking a driving licence, and answer questions we’re commonly asked.


What is a licence check?

It’s widely understood that the DVLA central database carries information associated with an individual’s driving record, such as points, endorsements, the vehicles that the licence holder is eligible to drive and any disqualifications or suspensions.

A licence check can be carried out via the DVLA’s own Share Driver Record service (however the driver must currently provide permission in the form of a unique time-limited share code each and every time) or employers, vehicle hirers, car sharing organisations, dealerships etc. can use a software service such as DAVIS, which manages driver permission- lasting for up to 3 years – and automates rechecks without any further intervention.

A licence check performed on an employee’s driving licence through DAVIS will return all the necessary data to confirm the employee has a valid licence for the appropriate vehicle including any unspent convictions and penalty points. The results of the check will reveal if the driver has had their licence revoked and shouldn’t be driving for the company and can also be an indicator as to whether additional monitoring or training should be put in place.

In summary there is a clearly established ‘duty of care’ obligation owed by all organisations to ensure that drivers are properly qualified to drive a vehicle that is being used for work related purposes or in connection with their business activities.


Is it the driver’s responsibility to ensure they have a licence and declare any points or disqualification?

It is certainly the driver’s responsibility to ensure that they are authorised to drive a vehicle under the Road Traffic Act 1988.  It is a criminal offence to drive a vehicle when unlicensed or improperly licensed. There may also be additional contractual obligations imposed by employers, hirers or insurers as well as a wider duty of care obligation owed to other road users and members of the public.   However simple reliance on disclosure by the driver is unlikely to suffice in all cases.  Although you might hope that your staff would be honest and open about their licence status, some may choose not to disclose this information deliberately or by omission.  If it is common practice in your industry, a professional requirement or a recommendation to independently check driver status and entitlement, failure to do so will be evidence of negligence or culpable behaviour on your part.  Sanctions can include hefty fines and (in the worst case) the imprisonment of directors or senior managers.


Can you be prosecuted for not knowing if an employee has a valid licence?

You could be if this ignorance is seen as a consequence of intentional conduct or recklessness.  In such circumstances not knowing will be no defence to causing or permitting someone to drive a vehicle without a licence. You may get fined £1,000 and the company secretary or MD could get points on their licence.  However a much greater risk is that organisations may be prosecuted under the Health and Safety Work Act 1974, the ramifications of which are much more serious with possible fines of up to £20 million, depending on the size of the business.  In the worst possible cases, there could be a charge of corporate manslaughter leading to heavy fines and imprisonment.


Under the Health and Safety Work Act 1974... possible fines of up to £20 million, depending on the size of the business

Should I check all of my employees at the same time?

The Association for Driving Licence Verification recommends organisations adopt a scaled response for licence check frequency, this is strictly point based, so doesn’t consider the severity of offences which still leaves a margin of risk:

0-3 points: Normal risk profile – bi-annually

4-7 points: Medium risk – quarterly

8+ points: Maximum risk – monthly

Certain other professional organisations or certification schemes will have their own recommendations and rules for driver check frequency.  Care should also be taken to follow any checks or procedures imposed by insurers as part of their risk assessment.  Failure could invalidate your insurance.

If you’re managing checks internally, this may require careful scheduling.  Alternatively, if you choose to check through a provider, such as DAVIS rechecks can be automated dependent upon “risk score’ or a set timetable so they are processed in the background, ensuring your ‘Duty of Care’ is continuously observed.


Should we hire someone who has points on their licence?

This will depend upon the circumstances.  Although penalty points expire after three years, they will remain on the DVLA driver record for four years.  Certain endorsements may therefore have expired despite being reported and should not be considered by the employer.  It’s also an unfortunate fact that a significant number of motorists will have collected some points on their licence over time but do not present a severe risk to the employer.  Whilst you may still choose to recruit an employee in such cases, this may make you more mindful of the fact that they may need to have their licence checked more regularly.  The total number of unspent points, recency of conviction and the type and frequency of driving required as part of their role will help determine whether the employee is suitable.


Why can’t we perform one check at the beginning of employment?

The DVLA driver record is dynamic insofar as driver personal information and the photo image will change over time.  Furthermore, over time new endorsements and points may be added or removed as they become ‘spent’.  The DVLA service will not automatically notify interested parties when the driver record is changed.  It requires a new enquiry to be made to the DVLA to obtain refreshed information each and every time.  You can’t always rely on the employee to update you on their licence status either. It’s far safer to set up a programme of automated rechecks that runs in the background based upon risk so that you have continuing assurance that you have met your Duty of Care obligations.


Is it expensive to check licences with a provider?

You can check the licences of your employees through the DVLA’s share my licence service for free. However, it’s important to note that driver permission in the form of a single use code is required each and every time you check. It also means that you’ll need to input and maintain the data within a spreadsheet or database and you’ll be responsible for carrying out rechecks, effectively repeating these processes every time.  Although there is no specific charge for the service, there are costs in the form of overheads that should be taken into account.  In almost every case, the cost of a serviced licence check will work out cheaper (not to mention more reliable and efficient) when compared with the time-cost of the above – particularly for larger numbers. Plus, you’ll benefit from the additional support and advice of a specialist company.


Are there any GDPR ramifications for managed services?

The DVLA driver data contains personal data within the meaning of the UKGDPR and Data Protection Act 2018 and in those cases where there are endorsements or health-based restrictions associated with the record, the information falls into the “special category” classification.  The data protection principles apply irrespective of whether or not a third party managed service is used, but in the latter case the processor will be a separate entity and you will need to have a suitable contract in place to cover the necessary data processing and security obligations.  You should also carefully consider the levels of control afforded to you as a user of the service in meeting the underlying principles and obligations enshrined in the legislation.


If you’re currently checking licences manually and would like to understand how DAVIS can save you time, effort and costs by automating the process for you, get in touch to book a demo or request a quote.