Once you have passed your driving test, providing that you stay in good health or don't get disqualified, you are generally entitled to keep driving until you reach your 70th birthday. When you first get your licence, especially if you pass at a young age, then this can seem quite some way off. However, there are a large number of drivers who continue to drive beyond the age of 70 – indeed, figures from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) puts the figure at around three million drivers.
What happens when you reach 70 and your licence expires?
Well, there is a considerable myth that when this happens, all drivers have to retake their driving tests in order to get a new licence and keep on driving. This actually couldn't be further from the truth – if you are 70, you don't have to take a test, all you have to do is renew your licence.
Renewing your licence
There is no legal age at which you have to stop driving, so whether you renew your licence is totally up to the individual. It is your responsibility to decide whether you are still fit enough to drive. By law, you have to renew your licence when you reach the age of 70, and then every three years after that.
Ninety days before your 70th birthday, the DVLA should send you a D46P Application for renewal of a driving licence. You can either fill this in and return it by post, or you can use the DVLA's online service to renew. There is no fee for renewal.
If you have a C1 or D1 entitlement – for minibuses or towing vehicles – and you intend to renew this as well, you must enclose a D4 'medical examination report' completed by a doctor in support of your application.
Keep a watch on your health
All drivers, no matter how old they are, must notify the DVLA of the onset or worsening of a medical condition which may affect their ability to drive safely. The medical conditions are listed in the DVLA's leaflet What you need to know about driving licences and include:
- heart conditions
- Parkinson's Disease
- certain eye conditions
- problems using limbs in a way that will affect the ability to drive
You might want to remember that it is illegal to drive if you can't read a number plate from 20.5 metres away – so if you wear glasses, you need to make sure that your prescription is up to date and allows you to do this.
Are you still a good driver?
As people get older, it's possible that they have developed what might be considered ‘bad habits' – after all, if you are 70 and passed your test when you were 25, it's been a long time since your driving was professionally assessed.
No matter what age you are, if you are concerned about your driving then you can book an Experienced Driver Assessment with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. This costs £35 and is not a 'test' – you will be assessed by a RoSPA-qualified driver who will give you a report on your driving and advise you on how you can improve your skills or drive more safely.
You know best
Driving can be a lifeline to many older people, allowing them to get on with their lives, and deciding to stop driving can have a detrimental effect. As mentioned above, the decision is entirely in your hands and there is no legal requirement to stop. However, if you find that you are having trouble driving, you don't feel as confident or safe or are simply not comfortable driving, then maybe you should reconsider your position. The last thing you would want is to be in, or to cause, an accident.
Of course, if you intend to keep on driving after you reach 70, you should always make sure that you have the appropriate car insurance cover and Direct Line can help provide insurance that suits your needs as an older driver.
If you need to make a claim, we'll do all we can to get you back on the road as soon as possible. Follow our step-by-step guide.Claims information
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