Your car clinic expert
Emma Smith is a journalist specialising in consumer issues and is a regular Driving contributor
Q. I passed my driving test in 1969 but my photocard driving licence says I qualified in December 1975. I didn’t notice the error until I needed to hire a car, when the manager of the company seemed to think I was either lying or had been banned at some point. I can’t get an explanation from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). Can you help?
ST, Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria
A. We spoke to the DVLA and discovered there’s a simple explanation for the discrepancy. Before 1974 all driving licences were issued by local taxation offices (LTOs). After 1974 LTOs began sending their records to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre (now known as the DVLA) so they could be stored centrally and computerised.
As information on test-pass dates was not included in these documents the date the record was transferred to the new centre was logged instead — December 1975 in your case. This became the date used on any future replacement licences.
Anyone who passed their test before 1974 will therefore have a date on their photocard driving licence that is different from the original one (presuming they have a photocard licence, that is — it is not compulsory to change unless any of your personal details have altered).
Look closely at your driving licence and you will see a chevron — “<” — before the date. This indicates the test was passed at some time prior to the date on the licence. Next time you use a hire car, explain this to the company to avoid unwarranted suspicion. ES