Tag Archives: driving licence

What power do the police have to test your eyesight?

There has been much ado in the press about police forces undertaking random checks on motorists and revoking licences at the roadside on the basis of a vision test. So, what are their powers?

vision test

Can the police stop me?

Under section 163 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 a police officer in uniform has the power to require a driver of a vehicle on a road to stop.  It is an offence to fail to comply with such a request.

Does the officer have to be in uniform?

To use this power the officer has to be in uniform. There is a common law power, however, for an officer not in uniform to request a vehicle to stop although there would be no penalty for failing to comply.

What is the law about vision and driving?

You must be able to read a registration plate from 20 metres (approximately five car lengths). It is an offence to drive with uncorrected defective eyesight.

Can the police ask me to do a roadside eye test?

You could be asked to undertake the test voluntarily. Otherwise, there must be a suspicion that you may be guilty of driving when you cannot comply with the vision test requirement. If the officer does suspect, you can be required to submit to a test.

Section 96 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 provides this power. The test can be carried out between 8am and 9pm, only in daylight.

What if I refuse to do the test?

If the officer has a reasonable suspicion that you have been driving while your eyesight is such that you could not pass the test and you refuse to do so, you are committing an offence.

What could happen?

Failing to stop for a police officer, under section 163, can be punished by a fine.

Driving with uncorrected defective eyesight or refusing to submit to a test of vision carries a fine, discretionary disqualification and an obligatory endorsement of three penalty points.

What about my licence, can it be revoked?

vision testIf you fail a vision test at the roadside, or fail to comply, the police can immediately report this fact to the DVLA.

There is a fast track system whereby a decision to revoke your licence can quickly be made, such a decision taking place within hours. Once your licence is revoked, it will be not be returned until you can demonstrate that your eyesight meets the required standard.

Your licence being revoked will not prevent a prosecution for the offences outlined above.

Why is the police vision test in the news?

The power for fast-track revocation has existed since 2013. The power is now being widely reported as three police forces have announced their intention to undertake such checks at the roadside, this may be extended nationwide.

Based on a study by the Association of Optometrists it is estimated that some 1 million people in the UK are driving illegally. RSA Insurance estimates that eyesight problems cause nearly 3000 casualties per year on the UK roads.

The police forces involved in the initiative have said that they will be gathering data as to the extent of any issues. Potentially, this could lead to a further mandatory vision test at some stage after the practical driving test.

Speak to an expert motoring law solicitor

We are experts in road traffic law and can advise you if you are facing investigation or prosecution. To discuss any aspect of your case please contact your nearest office.

Our offices across the East Midlands

Alternatively you can use the contact form below.


Banned from driving? Can you get your licence back early?

Driving Disqualification? We can help you get your licence back

In some instances, it is possible to apply to a court and ask that a driving ban is ended earlier than it would normally be.  How will you be able to argue to get your licence back early?

If your circumstances have changed since being disqualified, it is worth discussing with one of our criminal law specialists whether or not you can take advantage of this legal provision.

get your licence back early

Is legal aid available?

Legal aid may be available subject to a means test. Alternatively we will be able to provide you representation on a private basis.  This is likely to be by way of an affordable fixed fee.

What are the rules?

You can ask the court to reduce the period of your disqualification  after you’ve been banned from driving after the following periods have expired:

  • 2 years when your disqualification was for more than 2 years but less than 4 years
  • Half the length of the disqualification period where the driving ban was for between 4 and 10 years
  • 5 years in cases where your disqualification was for 10 years or more

What about a ban following a second drink driving offence?

get your licence back earlyWe are often asked by clients who have been disqualified for a second drink drive offence whether they are also able to apply to get their licence back early.

The answer to that question is ‘yes’.  The application will however be complicated as the High Court has expressed the following view:

“I would only add that justices … may if they think fit regard a mandatory disqualification as one which they are somewhat less ready to remove than a discretionary disqualification.”

But it will depend, as always, on the individual circumstances of your case.  The decision in Boliston v Gibbons (1995), for example, showed the High Court to be very sympathetic to the plight of the applicant.

What are the criteria?

The law states that:

“On any such application the court may, as it thinks proper having regard to—

(a) the character of the person disqualified and his conduct subsequent to the order,

(b) the nature of the offence, and

(c) any other circumstances of the case, either by order remove the disqualification as from such date as may be specified in the order or refuse the application.”

As a result, what any applicant needs to establish is that there is some compelling reason why the ban should be brought to an end early.  such examples include employment opportunities, reliance on a vehicle for caring responsibilities, personal immobility etc.

get your licence back early

Will the application be opposed?

It is very rare for an application not to be opposed.  Because of this we will work incredibly hard to ensure that an impressive argument is put before the court.

Unfortunately simply turning up and throwing yourself on the mercy of a court is unlikely to result in a return of your driving licence early.

If the application is refused, can I make a further application?

A further application is possible but you must wait for three months from the date of the refusal to make your next application

How we can help you get your licence back early

We will assist in preparing and presenting your application to the court. This will include taking your instructions and gathering any supporting evidence that you may need to strengthen your case.

Our experienced team have significant advocacy expertise before both the Magistrates’ and Crown Courts.  As a result we are best placed to secure the return of your driving licence.

Contact your nearest office to speak to one of our lawyers to see how we can help you get your licence back early.  Alternatively use the contact form below.

get your licence back early east midlands solicitor




Drink driving convictions and high-risk offenders

High-Risk Offenders – The Hidden Peril of Drink Driving

Many people convicted of drink driving leave court with a pretty clear idea as to the length of their driving disqualification, but for a significant number, there is a shock further down the line.

drink driving high risk offenders

Contrary to popular belief, there is no ‘right’ to hold a driving licence, merely by having passed a driving test, and not otherwise be disqualified. The Secretary of State for Transport has the right, where the circumstances justify it, to withhold a licence. One of the circumstances where this arises if after a drink drive conviction if the offender is deemed ‘high-risk’.

What is a high-risk offender?

The high-risk offender scheme applies to drivers convicted of the following:

  • one disqualification for driving or being in charge of a vehicle when the level of alcohol in the body equalled or exceeded either one of these measures:

87.5 mcg per 100 ml of breath
200.0 mg per 100 ml of blood
267.5 mg per 100 ml of urine

  • two disqualifications within the space of 10 years for drink-driving or being in charge of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol
  • one disqualification for refusing or failing to supply a specimen for alcohol analysis
  • one disqualification for refusing to give permission for a laboratory test of a specimen of blood for alcohol analysis.

If I fall into one of those categories, what does it mean?

It means that at the end of your disqualification period, your licence will not be returned.

How do I get my licence back?

There will need to be a medical assessment of your suitability to hold a driving licence; this will consist of:

  • questionnaire
  • serum CDT assay
  • any further testing indicated.

If a licence is awarded, the ’til 70 licence is restored for Group 1 car and motorcycle driving. Consideration may be given to a Group 2 licence.

drink driving high risk offenders licence returnIf a high-risk offender has a previous history of alcohol dependence or persistent misuse but has satisfactory examination and blood tests, a short period licence is issued for ordinary and vocational entitlement but is dependent on their ability to meet the standards as specified.

A high-risk offender found to have a current history of alcohol misuse or dependence and/or unexplained abnormal blood test results will have the application refused.

What does this mean in practice?

You need, if you are regularly consuming large quantities of alcohol (which may be much less than you believe it to be), to reduce your intake significantly, otherwise, this pattern of alcohol abuse will reveal itself when the blood sample is analysed (for liver function markers).

I wish I had been told this at the time?

Unfortunately, our experience shows that clients are not advised of this hidden consequence of drink driving.

Is there any appeal mechanism?

Fortunately, yes there is. We have a dedicated team of road traffic experts ready and able to assist you with any drink driving query.

If you would like further advice about this topic, then please contact one of the solicitors at your local office or use the form below.