Driving Licence Rules and Categories

It is an offence for anyone to drive a motor vehicle on a road without a licence, and you must have the correct licence for the class of vehicle you are driving.

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It is essential to ensure that at all times you have the right type of licence and that your licence is valid and up to date.

Making changes to your licence

There are hundreds of different medical conditions that could affect your ability to drive. By law you are required to inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Association (DVLA) if you suffer from any condition that could affect your driving. Failure to do so could result in prosecution and invalidation of your insurance should your medical condition be of relevance to any accident you may be involved in on the road.

Contacting the DVLA

The Driving and Vehicle Licence Authority (DVLA)’s main office is located in Swansea at the following address:

DVLA
Swansea
SA99 1AB

The DVLA will assess your case based on the information you provide them if possible. Should they not be able to do this, they may require extra information from your doctor or require you to attend a medical examination. Possible outcomes of providing this information to the DVLA include:

  • Nothing, you retain your licence or are given a new one
  • You may be given a new licence with a time limit when the DVLA will review your case
  • You may be given a new licence that shows you need special equipment to aid your driving should your ailment be physical
  • Your licence will be revoked and you will be unable to drive unless your condition improves

If your licence is revoked you will be provided with a full medical record stating the reasons. There may be the possibility of re-application for your licence should the reasons for your suspension from driving improve. You also have the right to appeal the decision in court.

Change of address

You are required to inform the DVLA of any change of address; upon this submission you will be issued with a new driving licence free of charge, unless you are due to change your photo. If you fail to notify the DVLA of such a change in circumstances, any Notice of Intended Prosecution that is to be delivered through the post will not reach you and the blame for this will fall squarely upon you.

For example, if you are caught speeding by a camera and have not informed the DVLA that you have changed your address, the police will send the NIP to your old address. The consequences if this happens can be severe.

You have 28 days in which to reply to an NIP and state the identity of the driver, and failure to do so will result in your case being referred to court. A charge of failure to identify the driver can then be brought against you, the punishment for which is 6 penalty points and a possible fine of up to £1,000.

Driving Licence Categories

Motorcycles

Type Category Minimum Age
Light motorcycle; up to 125cc; power output not exceeding 11kw (16.8bhp) A1 17
Medium-sized motorcycle; 25kw 25kW(33bhp) and a power to weight ratio not exceeding 0.16kW / kg A 17
Motorcycles with a sidecar and a power to weight ratio of up to 0.16 kW/kg A 17
Any size motorcycle, with or without a sidecar if you have completed the large motorcycle Direct Access Scheme A 21; or two years after passing the standard test
Moped P 16

Anyone wishing to ride a motorcycle or moped must first complete Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) and a theory test. Two years after passing these tests, or after reaching your 21st birthday, you must complete the Direct Access Scheme if you wish to ride a higher powered motorcycle.

3- or 4-wheeled light vehicles

Type Category Minimum Age
Motorised tricycles and quad-cycles with an unencumbered weight of no more than 550kg B1 17

Cars and small vans, with or without trailer

MAM stands for Maximum Authorised Mass, which means the total weight of both vehicle and the load it carries. The MAM can be found in a vehicles manual and will generally be on a sticker or plate fitted to the car. MAM is also known as Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) and permissible maximum weight.

Type Category Minimum Age
Cars and vans with a MAM not exceeding 3500kg and under 8 seats; trailer to weigh no more than 750kg B 17
As above but with trailer weighing more than 750kg, total load of vehicle and trailer not to exceed 3500kg B 17
As above but with automatic transmission B Auto 17
As above but with heavier trailer not included in category B B+E 17

Age exception

Category B, not including B+E, may be attained at 16 if on the higher rate of Disability Allowance.

Medium sized vehicles, with or without trailer

Type Category Minimum Age
Vehicles weighing between 3500kg and 7500 kg, with or without trailer weighing no more than 750kg C1 18
As above but with trailer weighing more than 750kg; combined weight of vehicle and trailer must not exceed 1200kg; trailer weight must not exceed that of vehicle C1+E 21

Age exceptions

  • Category C1 may be attained at 17 if a member of the armed forces.
  • Category C1 + E may be attained at 18 if you have passed your driving test and Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC) initial qualification.

You may also drive Category C + E vehicles at 18 if you undergo a national vocational course to get your Driver CPC initial qualification, or if you are taking a test for this category or Driver CPC initial qualification.

Large vehicles, with or without trailer

Type Category Minimum Age
Vehicle weighing more than 3500kg; trailer no more than 750kg C 21
As above but with trailer more than 750kg C+E 21

Age exceptions

  • Category C may be attained at 17 if a member of the armed forces.
  • Categories C and C + E may be attained at 18 if you have passed your driving test and Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC) initial qualification.

You may also drive Categories C and C + E vehicles at 18 if you undergo a national vocational course to get your Driver CPC initial qualification, or if you are taking a test for this category or Driver CPC initial qualification.

Minibuses, with or without trailers

Type Category Minimum Age
Minibus with between 9 and 19 passenger seats, with or without trailer weighing no more than 750kg D1 21
As above but with trailer weighing more than 750kg; total weight of both must not exceed 12000kg; weight of trailer must not exceed that of minibus D1+E 21

Age exceptions

  • Category D1 may be attained at 17 if a member of the armed forces.
  • Categories D1 and D1 + E vehicle may be driven at 18 if you are learning or taking a PCV test or Driver CPC initial qualification.
  • Once a PCV test and Driver initial qualification have been passed you may drive a category D1 vehicle at 18.

Buses, with or without trailers

Type Category Minimum Age
Any bus with more than 8 passenger seats, with or without trailer weighing no more than 750kg D 21
As above but with trailer over 750kg D+E 21

Age exceptions

Category D1 may be attained at 17 if a member of the armed forces.

Categories D and D + E vehicles may be driven at 18 if you are learning to take a PCV test or Driver CPC Initial Qualification. Once these tests are passed you may drive Categories D and D + E vehicles if the route is a regular service and no more than 50km (this rule ceases to apply when driver reaches age of 20); or if you are carrying no passengers; or if you are undertaking a National Vocational Training Course to attain a Driver CPC initial qualification.

Miscellaneous categories

Type Category Minimum Age
Agricultural tractors F 17
Road rollers G 21
Tracked vehicles H 21
Mowing machine or pedestrian controlled vehicle K 16

Age exceptions

  • Two wheeled or four close coupled wheeled tractors less than 2.45 metres wide may be driven at the age of 16.
  • Small road rollers weighing less than 11690kg with metal or hard rollers, which are unable to carry loads and are not steam powered, can be driven at 17.
  • Tracked vehicles with a MAM of less than 3500kg can be driven at 17.

Get protection for your licence

Licence Assist from DAS offers a number of benefits to make sure you are protected if you are facing having your licence taken away. This service gives you legal advice on any motoring matter, as well as cover for legal defence costs and a fixed monthly benefit if you lose your licence.


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