One of the fundamental – and most important – elements of fleet compliance is ensuring that every driver who gets behind the wheel of a company vehicle is eligible to drive.

Failure to do so, or at least demonstrate that reasonable steps were taken to ensure a driver was legal can result in huge fines and other serious consequences.

Around 5% of motorists in the UK have points on their licence. Many of those drivers will not disclose this to an employer, at least not without being asked.

This is why it’s imperative that fleet managers carry out regular driver licence checks.

Not only does performing licence checks confirm a driver is eligible to drive, but it also helps safeguard against possible fines and mitigate the risk of road accidents.

Here is a look at 6 of the most important things you need to know about checking drivers’ licences:


1. It’s a criminal offence to allow an employee to drive a company vehicle without a valid licence

Under The Road Traffic Act 1988 it’s an offence for anyone to knowingly drive without a valid licence, or for an employer to permit a driver to drive a company vehicle without a valid licence.

It’s important to be aware that employers have a duty to check the eligibility of anyone they allow to drive their vehicles.

The best way to mitigate the risks involved in having an ineligible and uninsured driver on the road is to carry out routine licence checks.


2. You can check your employees’ licences with the DVLA online

You can perform a licence check on any employee by visiting the site, but you must have their permission every time you want to make a check. It has sometimes been reported that employers use their drivers’ National Insurance details to check their licence, but that is, in fact, a breach of the Data Protection Act.

The driver has to generate a Check Code, which the employer or fleet manager then uses to see the employee’s licence information.

This is a good way to check the eligibility of a driver, but it’s a time-consuming process and requires participation from the driver every time a check is performed.


3. There is a better solution than DVLA Online for bulk checking

For bulk licence checking or checking driver licences on a regular basis, using the DVLA online service becomes cumbersome.

FleetCheck LicenceAssured is designed to make driver licence checking quicker and easier. It’s simple to set up, you only have to ask permission from your drivers once every 3 years, and LicenceAssured integrates seamlessly with FleetCheck fleet management software.


4. You need permission from a driver to check their licence

Due to the Data Protection Act 1988 and GDPR, employers must always get permission from drivers before checking their licence information.

This is why the DVLA has the Check Code system in place, but you have to go through the process every time you perform a licence check.

One of the main benefits of using FleetCheck LicenceAssured is that you only need to get permission from a driver, either on paper or electronically, once every three years.


5. Performing regular licence checks is important

Employers are expected to check their drivers’ licences on a regular basis and at the very least be able to demonstrate they have a good licence checking system in place.

Points can accumulate quickly and a driver’s eligibility to drive can change at any time. For this reason, it’s generally believed to be best practice to check a driver’s licence at least once a year.

For drivers who are known to be higher risk; such as those who have already accrued points, are inexperienced or have a higher accident rate, more regular checks should be performed.

Using FleetCheck LicenceAssured you can schedule and automate licence checks. This way, you can mitigate the risk of having uninsured drivers on the road.


6. Having a robust licence checking process mitigates liability

If a driver is caught driving a company vehicle without a valid driving licence, both the driver and the company in question can face costly fines and other punishments.

If a driver without a valid licence causes a serious accident, criminal proceedings could take place and the penalties can be crippling for a business.

Obviously, it’s not always going to be possible to know the moment a driver picks up points. But as long as an employer can prove they check licences regularly and have a good system in place, they can build a good legal defence.