If you are a manager who has recently taken over responsibility for managing a company’s fleet, ensuring the eligibility of every driver operating a company vehicle is a fundamental aspect of your new job. It’s a big responsibility, carrying significant consequences for non-compliance. Failure to take reasonable steps to confirm a driver’s legality may result in substantial fines and other serious repercussions for the company under health and safety law. Checking driving licences can be an administrative burden, but there is really no better way of making sure you are only allowing legally qualified people access to your company’s vehicles. Approximately 5% of UK motorists have points on their licences, and many fail to disclose this information to their employers unless specifically asked about it. If you are unsure of your legal responsibilities, here are six key things to bear in mind.


1. Driving Without a Licence is a Criminal Offence

It’s not just the driver who could be in trouble with the police for driving without a licence. Allowing an employee to drive a company vehicle without a valid licence is also a criminal offence. Employers have the job of verifying the eligibility of individuals with access to company vehicles. Regular licence checks are a proven and effective means of reducing company risks associated with ineligible and uninsured drivers.


2. Online Licence Checks

Employers can check employees’ licences via the Gov.uk site but must obtain permission from the drivers every time they check. Using National Insurance details for licence checks without the driver’s permission is a breach of the Data Protection Act. Drivers must first generate a Check Code, which gives the employer access to their licence information.


3. Bulk Checking Solution

When you are managing a large fleet, or have many people with access to pool cars or vans, the DVLA online service may become impractical. There are many third party services which can help you with this process, saving you both time and money in the long run.


4. Permission

As stated above, the GDPR and Data Protection laws mean you can’t access someone else’s driving licence information without their consent. Some third parties can also manage the permission aspect of the system for you, and request permission from your employees once every three years, either electronically or in writing.


5. Repeated Checks

In the event of something going wrong, the authorities will expect to see proof that any employer has some sort of system to check licences regularly. This is to guard against the risk of someone racking up a lot of points on their licence in a short period, or losing their licence completely. Annual checks are usually sufficient, but some companies will check high-risk drivers more frequently.


6. Legal Defence

Driving a company vehicle without a valid licence can lead to fines and penalties for both the driver and the company. A good licence checking process is defence in court that you were doing everything you could to minimise the risk of being affected by a driver who is driving without the right licence.