LGV drivers could have been wrongfully prosecuted over out-of-date licence details

Thousands of drivers could have been wrongly convicted after not updating their licence details, according to a lawyer who won a case by showing that the incorrect section of the Road Traffic Act was used.

Michael Pace, transport solicitor at Lincolnshire-based Andrew & Co, said some police forces and magistrates did not possess the training to know that out of date photocard ID or address details did not mean a licence was invalid.

Pace recently acquitted a client of a charge of having no insurance after Lincolnshire police said her licence was out of date.

He also acted for an unnamed retailer whose driver was pulled over in Dover and warned by police that his licence was invalid.

He said many prosecutions have been brought under Section 87 (1) of the Act, when it is Section 99 (5) that refers to failing to update the DVLA. The latter is also an non-endorsable offence, meaning wrongly convicted drivers could demand their fines are repaid.

"The mistake starts with the words used on the plastic licence: ‘licence valid to…’, he explained. "It ought to read: ‘photo valid to…’.

"My goal is to get this out, people need to be more aware of it. If they are stopped and the police talk about seizing their vehicle, they can’t. The police have got it wrong."

Lincolnshire’s chief inspector Stewart Brinn said: "We have issued clear guidance to all our staff to rectify this situation and we have also raised the issue at both regional and national forums.

"I can only reinforce that failure to have a current photograph or address on a driving licence remains an offence for which people can face prosecution."

G Webb fits on-board cameras to beat insurance claims

Cambridgeshire-based bulk waste and aggregate haulier G Webb has used on-board vehicle cameras to reduce the number of fraudulent insurance claims.

The company fitted Smart Witness cameras to the 40-strong fleet of tippers back in February. David Webb, joint MD of the haulier, said previously, a lot of people phoned claiming one of his trucks had caused an accident in situations where it was difficult to prove. However, using cameras, the company said it is in a better place to defend itself.

Webb said: “Our insurers like the cameras so much they are paying half the camera and installation costs. The camera provides the evidence so we, and the driver, can see exactly what has happened.”