April 20, 2021

DVSA refuses to extend expired theory tests

LEARNER drivers have lost £1.14million as a result of car theory tests expiring due to Covid backlogs.

Driving tests and lessons have been suspended during much of the pandemic, causing a pile-up of 420,000 car driving tests and 380,000 car theory tests.

But the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has resisted calls from learners to extend expiry dates on tests or suspend charges for repeat tests.

When the test booking system reopened in August it crashed following almost seven million applications for just 35,000 driving test slots.

With practical driving tests set to restart on April 22 in England and Wales, there will be 50,000 learner car drivers whose theory tests certificates will have expired.

Many drivers have also experienced multiple cancellations for driving test due to Covid restrictions.

The theory test costs £23 and is valid for two years.

Almost 50,000 car theory tests expired during the first and second lockdown, according to a Freedom of Information request made by Marmalade Insurance.

Learner drivers now face a 17 week wait to book a driving test, meaning many more theory tests will expire.

Over 79,000 people have signed an online petition for theory tests to be extended, with another petition calling upon the UK Government and Parliament to reconsider waiving theory test resit fees.

Experts have called for certificates to be extended or for the fee to be waived.

“We’d like them [the DVSA] to extend theory test certificates, because it’s not the fault of learner drivers that they can’t take their driving tests,” Howard Redwood, head of road safety at the Driving Instructors Association (DIA), said.

Gunnar Peters, CEO at learner driver insurance specialist, Veygo said: “This will be understandably frustrating for many learner drivers who will find themselves out of pocket if forced to retake expired theory tests through no fault of their own, so we’d like to see the DVSA waiving fees for those affected.”

Robert Cowell, interim managing director of AA Driving School said: “With the unprecedented demand for driving lessons that we’ve seen as lockdown restrictions lift, we anticipate the backlog will only increase.

“Our hope is that the recent DVSA recruitment drive to recruit an additional 300 examiners will make more test slots available for learners who have waited months to re-start their driving journey.

“If theory test certificates which expired in one of the UK’s lockdowns are extended in the same way MOTs and driving licences were, these learners could be on the road to passing their test sooner.”

Despite the backlog the DVSA has warned that extending theory test certificates could be a safety issue.

It is also feared that an extension to tests could cause costs to rise for others.

A DVSA spokesperson told The Sun: “Those with theory test certificates expiring will have taken their test in early 2019.

“Since then, their more recent lessons and practice sessions will have been significantly curtailed during recent lockdowns and it is likely that their skills base will have diminished. “Research shows that this would be particularly harmful for hazard perception skills, a key factor in road safety.”

“We are advising customers to regularly check the booking system as they might find an earlier date due to a cancellation or more tests being added.”

Driving tests were given the go ahead to resume from April 12th, so learner drivers will be able to get back out on the road now.

There are new rules around the test too, but we have the lowdown on how to book.

For example, one new rule is that test-takers must wear a mask while driving.

If you need to practise your theory test we have a fully equipt classroom here at Britannia, we also offer free interactive help on our website.