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Driving Licence Management

In the United Kingdom, the driving licence is the official document which authorises its holder to operate various types of motor vehicle on highways and some other roads to which the public have access. In England, Scotland and Wales they are administered by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and in Northern Ireland by the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA). A driving licence is required in the UK by any person driving a vehicle on any highway or other road defined in s.192 Road Traffic Act 1988 irrespective of ownership of the land over which the road passes, thus including many which allow the public to pass over private land; similar requirements apply in Northern Ireland under the Road Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order 1981.

UK nationals do not normally have identity cards: a modern photo driving licence can serve many of the purposes of an identity card in non-driving contexts (proof of identity (e.g. when opening a bank account) or age (e.g. when buying alcohol, fireworks etc.)).

Applications for a provisional driving licence can be made from the age of 15 years and 9 months. Valid for driving a moped or light quad bike from aged 16, and a car from aged 17, or 16 for those who get, or have applied for, the higher/enhanced rate of the mobility component of PIP or DLA. Until a United Kingdom driving test (which consists of three sections: theory and a hazard perception test followed by a supervised driving examination) has been passed a driver may hold only a provisional licence and be subject to certain conditions.

The conditions attached to provisional licences of a particular category of vehicle are:

  • L-plates or (in Wales only) D plates (Welsh: Dysgwr) must be conspicuously displayed on the front and rear of the vehicle.
  • Learner drivers of a particular category and transmission type of vehicle must be accompanied by somebody aged at least 21 who has held a full driving licence for that category and transmission type for at least three years, except in the case of solo motorcycles and vehicles of certain categories designed solely for one person.
  • No trailer may be towed, except when driving a tractor or where a full licence gives provisional entitlement to drive a car with trailer, large goods vehicle with trailer or bus with trailer.
  • Motorcycle riders must not carry any pillion passenger.
  • Bus drivers must not carry any passenger except a person giving or receiving instruction.
  • Motorways must not be used by holders of car and motorcycle provisional licences, excluding B+E learner drivers.

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