New driving licence rules will come into effect in the UK on January 19th 2013. These will require newly issued licences to be produced in a format that will be harder to copy illegally. Drivers' images, as such, will be burnt by laser onto several layers. These will therefore be black and white rather than colour as with the current format. Licences will also made from polycarbonate - rather than basic plastic - so they will be light and tough.
New driving licence rules will also influence what motorists can tow. According to www.gov.uk, the Category B (car and small vehicle) licence will enable motorists to have:
- small trailers weighing no more than 750kg.
- trailers weighing more than 750kg, where the combined weight of the towing vehicle and the trailer isn’t more than 3,500kg.
In contrast, Category B licences issued on or after January 1st 1997 allow drivers to have:
- a vehicle up to 3.5 tonnes or 3,500 kilograms (kg) Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM (with a combined weight of up to 4,250kg in total).
- a trailer over 750kg MAM as long as it is no more than the unladen or ‘kerb’ weight of the towing vehicle (with a combined weight of up to 3,500kg in total).
The new licence rules will also affect lorry and bus drivers. As such, www.gov.uk says: “If you pass your driving test in categories C, CE, C1, C1E, D, DE, D1 or D1E, after 19 January 2013 you’ll get a licence valid for 5 years. Every 5 years up to age 45, you’ll need to sign a declaration to show you still meet the medical standards. After age 45, you’ll need to provide a medical examination report every 5 years to renew your driving entitlement.”
In contrast, the following rules will apply to those under 45 with older licences: “If you passed a driving test in one of the categories below you’ll come under the new rules when you renew your driving licence. The categories affected are C, CE, C1, C1E, D, DE, D1 or D1E. When you renew your licence, you’ll receive a licence valid for 5 years. Every time you renew you’ll need to confirm you still meet the medical standards. If you apply to replace your licence because it is lost or stolen, or your personal details have changed, your new licence will run until the end of your original period. However, if you update your photo at the same time you’ll come under the new 5-year rule.” Finally, “drivers over 45 will continue to renew their entitlement as they do now. When you renew your licence at the end of a 5-year period, you’ll need to provide a medical examination report.”
The rule changes will also affect motorcycle and moped riders. As such, new licences will enable their holders to ride vehicles as defined by their licence categories. For example:
There are considerations for existing licence holders too: “If you’re already licensed to ride a moped your driving licence will show a category P. The new rules won’t affect you, but any new licences issued to you will show categories AM and Q in the table above, plus category P, which will also allow you to ride two or three-wheeled mopeds with a top speed of 50 km/h.“
There is also advice for motorcycle and tricycle riders: “If you’re already licensed to ride a motorcycle, your licence should show category A. This will be the same when you replace your licence after 19 January 2013. If you hold category B1 (trikes and quads), when you renew or replace your licence after 19 January 2013 it will show categories B1 and A (limited to tricycles). You’ll only be offered a test for mopeds with 3 or 4 wheels, or A1 tricycles and A tricycles if you have a physical disability.”