The DVLA has amended guidance for its annual medical exam forms after wrongly refusing to renew a professional driver’s licence, claiming his eyesight was not good enough.
Questions are now being asked regarding how many other drivers could have lost their licence because of badly drafted legislation, with CM already aware of another driver who fell foul of the incorrect interpretation. Chris Thomas, 69, said he “went through misery” after being told that changes to eyesight standards in 2013 meant that he failed his annual test and did not have grandfather rights.
However, an eagle-eyed solicitor took on his case and was able to demonstrate that The Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) Regulations 1999 had been amended so many times that the wording no longer makes sense. It means that although Thomas’s eyesight measures more than the limit of +8 dioptres, he does benefit from grandfather rights and therefore can continue to drive. Thomas said: “There must be dozens like me who have to have their medical [exam] every year after they turn 65. My form came back saying ‘unfit to drive’ . It’s a pretty nasty way to approach it.”
Martin Langan at the Road Traffic Representation in Portsmouth said: “In rejecting his application originally, [the DVLA] was relying on guidance that was perhaps a misinterpretation of the regulations. I went back to the regulations themselves. It was horrendous to work your way through. It’s gone wrong in historical changes. At some time the draughtsman has confused himself and left wording in that makes an absurdity of it.”
A DVLA spokeswoman told CM: “We have considered how the dioptre requirements should be applied to those lorry and bus drivers who were first licensed to drive lorries and buses before 1 January 1997, and who can qualify for grandfather rights. Those drivers who may qualify and can meet any other legislative requirement for retaining their entitlement to drive lorries and buses do not need to also satisfy the +8 dioptre requirement.”
She added: “We have amended our internal guidance for checking application forms. The INF4D information leaflet, which accompanies the D4 medical examination form, will also be amended.”