Closed petition Extend driving theory test certificates expiring in 2020/21 by 12 months

The theory test certificate is currently valid for 2 years. The government should extend this period by 12 months for all certificates due to expire in 2020 and 2021

More details

Due to the Covid 19 lockdowns, 4 months of driving tests have been cancelled through no fault of learner drivers. Many learners’ theory certificates will expire due to the difficulties in booking driving tests this year and inevitably the next year. As a result, the government should extend the theory test certificate’s validity so these learners are punished no further. If this is not possible, any subsequent theory tests required due to Covid 19 lockdowns should be costed to the government.

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Government responded

This response was given on 19 January 2021

The maximum duration of two years between passing the theory test and practical test is in place for road safety reasons and the Government has no current plans to lay legislation to extend it.

Read the response in full

The maximum duration of two years between passing the theory test and a subsequent practical test is in place to ensure that a candidate’s knowledge is current. This validity period is set in legislation and the Government has no current plans to lay further legislation to extend it.

We realise this will affect and disappoint some learners, especially young people, but it is important that road safety knowledge and hazard perception skills are up to date at the critical point that new drivers drive unsupervised for the first time. Those with theory test certificates expiring will have taken their test in early 2019. Since then, their lessons and practice sessions will have been significantly curtailed during recent lockdowns and it is likely that their knowledge base will have diminished. Research suggests that this would be particularly harmful for hazard perception skills, a key factor in road safety.

Ensuring new drivers have current relevant knowledge and skills is a vital part of the training of new drivers, who are disproportionality represented in casualty statistics. Taking all this into consideration, the decision has been made not to extend theory test certificates and learners will need to pass another theory test if their certificate expires.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency is rescheduling affected practical driving tests by moving them to the next available test dates and is informing candidates as it does so. The Agency is also working hard to increase test availability when it is safe to resume services.

The fee for a practical test booking will be refunded to a candidate as soon as their theory test certificate expires. The Road Traffic Act 1988 does not allow for theory test fees to be refunded and learners will already have received the service for which they paid. The Government has no current plans to lay further legislation to exempt those affected from having to pay a fee for retaking the theory test.

Department for Transport

Other parliamentary business

MPs to debate extension of driving theory test certificates during the covid-19 outbreak

MPs will debate extension of driving theory test certificates during the covid-19 outbreak on Thursday 28 January in the main House of Commons chamber. This is an Adjournment debate, determined by the Speaker.

Adjournment debates are half-hour debates at the end of each day's sitting. They are an opportunity for an individual backbench MP to raise an issue and receive a response from the relevant Minister, however they do not end in a vote nor can they change the law.

The debate will start at around 5.00pm, after the conclusion of the debate on the UN International Day of Education.

Watch here on Thursday: https://parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/63587f53-a412-4d17-ac94-3d95908cd9f4

Find out more about how Adjournment debates work: https://www.parliament.uk/about/how/business/debates/adjournment/

MPs question Government Ministers, officials, and the PCS union on the work of the DVLA

On Wednesday 21 July, MPs on the Transport Committee held an evidence session to consider the difficulties facing the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), including the current backlog of cases awaiting processing.

Watch the session: https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/e13d8e44-6479-459a-89ab-be2a147eef4f
Read the transcript: https://committees.parliament.uk/oralevidence/2613/pdf/

During the session, the Committee questioned:

  • Mark Serwotka, General Secretary, PCS
  • Sarah Evans, DVLA Branch Chair, PCS Union
  • Julie Lennard, Chief Executive Officer, DVLA
  • Baroness Vere of Norbiton, Minister for Roads, Buses and Places, Department for Transport

This session is the Committee’s second evidence session with the DVLA this year. MPs spoke to the Chief Executive following an outbreak of covid-19 at DVLA headquarters in Swansea.

What is the Transport Committee?

The Transport Committee is a cross-party group of MPs appointed by the House of Commons to scrutinise the work of the Department for Transport, the Government department responsible for the English transport network.

The Department is also responsible for a limited number of transport matters in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that have not been devolved to the Scottish Government, Welsh Government, or Northern Ireland Executive.

Find out more about the Transport Committee: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/153/transport-committee/
Follow the Committee on Twitter for real-time updates on its work: https://twitter.com/CommonsTrans