Conviction rates for cheating learners and impersonators, RAC safety concerns and DVSA anti-fraud fightback.
Driving test fraud conviction rates 2012 - 2017
Dozens of learner drivers were convicted of allowing an impersonator to sit a practical or theory test on their behalf between 2012 - 2017, UK Transport Minister Andrew Jones revealed. Learners engaged imposters as they were more likely to meet test standards. In contrast, it is likely that most imposters were paid.
In recent years, the number of learners convicted of such a crime were: 2015/16 (44), 2014/15 (39), 2013/14 (44) and 2012/13 (45). Another 37 have, so far, been caught in the year to March 31st 2017.
In contrast, the number of motorists convicted of impersonation were: 2015/16 (23), 2014/15 (26), 2013/14 (22) and 2012/13 (12). Another 28 have, so far, been caught in the year to March 31st 2017.
Such offences can lead to a custodial sentence. In September 2016, Croydon Crown Court imprisoned a man for 2 years for taking a series of car, motorcycle, and lorry tests on behalf of others. A learner driver from Cheshire, in contrast, recently received 4 months for permitting an imposter to take a test on his/her behalf.
Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency Head of Counter Fraud, Andy Rice, confirmed that such actions undermine safety. He said: "The driving test is there to ensure that all drivers have the skills and knowledge to use the roads safely, and responsibly. Anyone who tries to circumvent this process is putting innocent road users at risk."
The RAC Foundation is a transport policy and research initiative which considers economic, mobility, safety and environmental issues. Director Steve Gooding said: “With only half of candidates passing their driving test first time, you can see why some could be tempted to guarantee their success by hiring an impersonator.”
He continued: “By being prepared to get behind the wheel by fair means or foul, people hiring impersonators put everyone’s lives at risk because neither we, nor they, have any idea whether their driving meets the required standard.”
“Our strong road safety record is built on 3 pillars: roadworthy vehicles, responsibly driven by properly qualified drivers. This sort of behaviour is flagrantly kicking one of those pillars away.”
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has a Counter-Fraud and Investigation Team to minimise risk to the public, Transport Minister Andrew Jones confirmed. “Over the last 5 years more than 1,100 licences have been revoked due to evidence that the licence was obtained fraudulently - which includes impersonation”, he said.
Mr Jones confirmed, however, that it is “unable to estimate the number of people” that currently hold a licence that was fraudulently obtained via an impersonator.