I have a full driving licence

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I learned to drive in a fairly rural area, where the biggest hazard is ponies dozing in the shade under a railway bridge (or Highland cattle wandering out into the road without looking). Whilst it does mean I know what to do when I encounter police horses, and it’s fairly good training for dopey pedestrians on Oxford Street, it possibly wasn’t the best training for the rough-and-tumble of a 10-mile commute into London each day. I passed my test fifteen years ago. I haven’t driven since I moved to London 12 years ago, and yet I still have a full driving license. It’s a paper one. It’s still got my parents’ address on it.

There is nothing in law that says I must have some refresher lessons, or a take another driving test. I could (if I had the money), pop into the Porsche showroom down the road, give the salesman the heebie-jeebies when he realised what an awful driver I was, buy a ridiculously over-powered car and drive it straight onto the Bow Interchange. I’m not even sure if my lack of driving experience would be picked up by my new insurers. Are there questions that pick up  that a new customer hasn’t driven for a stupidly long time, and should be contacted for further information?

If I found myself in a situation where I had to drive in London, after the obligatory scream of “I don’t wanna and you can’t make me!” I would take lessons, but you don’t have to, and, sadly, there are people who won’t do the common-sense thing unless it has the force of the law and associated sanctions behind it.

Isn’t that a bit mad?

15 Comments

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15 Responses to I have a full driving licence

  1. Snap! I haven’t driven for 13 years because I have been living in city centre flats so have had no need to. I too have a paper driving licence still with my parents’ address on, it this legal?

    However as I contemplate walking a mile to the supermarket and back (uphill on the return) buying a car is quite attractive. Don’t worry if I do I will be responsible and take some refresher lessons. I probably won’t though, the environment doesn’t need any more cars on the road

  2. Catherine

    I only had a paper licence until I sent it in to get my address changed for moving up here. The crazy thing is you now have both a paper licence and the little plastic card, and you need both bits to hire a car! I’ve always driven a lot, and (reasonably) happily drive in Edinburgh (the caveat is that because of the tram roadworks it sometimes feels that no sooner do you learn a route it gets changed!)

    However I would be very happy to never ever drive in London!

  3. Ophelia

    I’ve driven continuously for 8 years, 5 in Australia and then 3 yrs of hire cars in the UK. But the insurance company tried to count only 1 year of “driving experience” because I only converted my license last year! I finally found one which would give me 8 years (Direct line) but even then I had ZERO years of no claim, since there was a gap of over 2 years where I wasn’t insured on a car.

    You can apply for a couple of free refresher lessons through the AA (http://www.theaa.com/public_affairs/news/aa-charity-launches-drive-confident.html) if you have a full license but been off the road for a while. I got two free lessons when I wanted to learn to drive a manual after having only done autos back home.

    I read some advice for driving during the holiday season somewhere (might have been the AA) where it reminded people that there would be a lot of folks on the road who only drive at this time, so to be more patient with them!

    • Al

      You can get info from the DMV in Oz stating when you got your licence and send it all to the DVLA to sort out. I did that for mine as I needed to be able to hire cars for trips (both here and in Europe).

      • Ophelia

        Yes, my Oz lic was easily converted to a lovely pink UK one. I would’ve been legally allowed to jump straight into a manual car, having never driven one before! But I decided I’d rather not risk it, and get a bit of tuition first.

  4. I haven’t driven for about 12 years either, never took to it after learning whilst I was at school and subsequent arranged my life such that I don’t need to drive. I’m hoping if I can hold on a few more years cars will be self-driving and I won’t have to bother!

    I got my paper license replaced with a photo-card towards the end of last year – it’s free!

  5. Amanda Porter

    Your paper license is invalid because it does not have your current address on it x

  6. naath

    Me also! I even used mine to rent a van! Which I drove about 500m before the friend who I was going to share the van-driving with seized the keys from me… (I was really really bad).

    Daft law.

  7. It does seem crazy, also the fact that you are allowed to continue driving until the day you die without any checking, I know in the decade or so I have been driving I have picked up bad habits, reaction time diminished a little I hate to think what will happen over 50 years of driving!

    Anyway its a good idea that the AA are offering refresher courses, I know the cynic in me will be saying they are only doing it in the hope you pay for more, but once you get behind the wheel again it will all come back, just watch out for those damn pesky cyclists hogging our roads!

    • Ophelia

      Yeah, I thought the AA would be in with a bit of a hard sell, but I genuinely did not hear a peep from them after my free 2 hours.

  8. bimble

    And yes, you are supposed to get the address changed if you move… but having just a paper licence isn’t a problem, though I imagine hire places would get grumpy and might ask for some form of photo ID just so they can check that you match the licence.

    I also suspect that you’ll still not be as bad as some you’ll find on the road who drive every day… thoughts of the guy going round the mini roundabout the wrong way in the village only 20min ago spring to mind…

    On the other hand, since I passed my test in ’97 (yes, I initially had only the paper licence) I’ve driven something like 200,000 miles…

  9. 15 years of non-driving & you can drive a Porsche…and to think that some people think that cyclists should take a test! ;>D