Driving licence checks can be accessed for free on gov.uk, and we often get asked why anyone would pay for a licence checking service. Firstly, it’s not the same service: it won’t manage drivers on an ongoing basis or provide reports. Secondly, using it for regular checks on more than 10 drivers will end up costing you more in time spent, than the per check cost charged by a third-party provider. There are potential limitations to this service – so we’ve written a blog to highlight what these are, and why switching to an automated software service will make your driver licence checks quicker, your data more transparent and help you to keep on top of your health and safety obligations.
How the DVLA View/Share My Licence service works
The ‘View My Licence’ service from the DVLA via gov.uk was put in place following the abolition of the driving licence paper counterpart, giving drivers access to their driving information that had historically been printed on paper. The DVLA service is intended to be used by individual drivers for viewing their own licence details, so for example, to check which vehicles they can drive, or check the number of active penalty points.
However, another part of the service enables drivers to share their licence details with a third party, for instance, a car hire company or an employer. In order to legitimately share this information, the driver must initiate the process and generate a single-use unique code which is then passed to the third party to enter to allow them access. The single use code is valid for up to 21 days from the date of issue. Both the ‘View My Licence’ and ‘Share My Licence’ services are completely free of charge and offer a way of viewing driver entitlements and active convictions.
Unlawfully using the DVLA View/Share My Licence service
There are a number of businesses that are using the ‘View My Licence’ service instead of the ‘Share My Licence’ service by impersonating the driver bypassing the need for a share code and therefore accessing the information unlawfully. This is a clear breach of the data protection rules and exposes the abusing organisation to a heavy fine as well as a range of other sanctions. The DVLA ‘View My Licence’ service makes it clear that any third-party should obtain a share code from the driver, so ignorance will be no excuse!
The ‘Share My Licence’ service is free to use, but when factoring in the amount of time it takes to request (and wait for) a code from a driver, the time taken to manually carry out the check and any repeat checks – it may actually cost you more than the fee that a licence checking provider charges.
Limitations of the DVLA View/Share My Licence service
Using the ‘Share My Licence’ service won’t provide any permanent record, or log of the checks you’ve carried out. Whoever is responsible for carrying out the checks for your business would need to keep a spreadsheet with the date of the completed check, and a screen shot of the licence details. When using a third-party checking provider, you have instant access to all the check history and can find the driver within seconds.
If you continue using the ‘Share My Licence’ service, the next time you come to check the licence, you’ll need to go through the whole process of getting a code again whereas with a third party licence checking provider, once drivers have provided permission the licence can be checked as many times as required for up to 3 years (the validity of the permission).
You’ll also need to be really organised to keep on top of your rechecks if you choose to continue checking through the ‘Share My Licence’ service. At the very least, you’ll need to set reminders to recheck each driver and to do that you’ll need to decide how often to check based on the individual driver risk profile. According to how critical driving is to the driver’s role or the current status of their licence (ie how many penalty points they have) you may wish to recheck as frequently as monthly. The benefit of using a software service, particularly DAVIS, is that you can manage this in a smarter way – rechecks can be set up so that the higher the driver risk, the more frequent the checks.
We are finding that a number of insurers are increasing premiums or delaying payment of claims where organisations are unable to prove that they are taking steps to manage their drivers and fleet risks properly, so you may wish to check if your insurance policy is affected by using the DVLA service, rather than a third party provider.
Using a third party licence checking provider
The benefit of a software service doing the hard work for you, is that the rechecks can be carried out seamlessly in the background without any additional administrative input and irrespective of periods of holiday or sickness. When you use a third-party provider, you won’t even need to know your BE from your D1E categories. Once your drivers are set up with the vehicle types they’ll be driving, the system will ensure the licence has the correct category codes listed.
The final point to mention is that when you use a third-party provider, you’ll also have access to an experienced Support team. The DAVIS team are available during office hours either on the phone, or via email and there isn’t anything they don’t know about checking driving licences.