DVLA warns drivers of 3 new driving laws coming into force this month

new laws

November 10, 2021

The UK’s Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is warning motorists that three new driving laws are being introduced this month (November 2021).

The DVLA states that certain drivers who flout the new driving rules UK could end up with a hefty £1,000 fine, penalty points or a driving ban.

Here’s a breakdown of the three new rules, how they can affect you and how to comply with them.

Clean-Air Zones (CAZ)

Most of us are familiar with the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and Congestion Charging Zone in central London (which was recently extended up to, but not including, the North and South Circular Roads).

However, in addition to London, other large cities in the UK are now following suit by introducing Clean Air Zones to their city centre driving areas.

There are already two cities with a CAZ in operation namely Bath (which has a Class C Clean Air Zone) and Birmingham (which has a Class D Air Zone).

So what’s new?

The latest city that will start charging certain vehicles that pass through their Class B CAZ from 29 November 2021, is Portsmouth.

The good news is that a B classification CAZ does not apply to privately owned cars.

However, taxis and private hire vehicles entering the CAZ will have to pay £10 per day, and coaches and lorries will need to pay £50 per day.

Many more UK cities plan to introduce and implement a CAZ later this year or next year.

As touched upon above, different cities have different classifications for their Clean Air Zones which means only certain vehicles included in a relevant class will potentially have to pay a charge, according to how ‘green’ their vehicle is.

Clean Air Zone classes

Class A Class B Class C Class D

Buses

Coaches

Taxis

Private hire vehicles

Buses

Coaches

Taxis

Private hire vehicles

HGVs

Buses

Coaches

Taxis

Private hire vehicles

HGVs

Vans

Minibuses

Buses

Coaches

Taxis

Private hire vehicles

HGVs

Vans

Minibuses

Cars

Motorcycles (option for LAs* to include)

*LAs = local authorities

If you’re planning to drive through a CAZ in Bath, Birmingham or Portsmouth, then you can check on the Government’s website whether your vehicle means you will need to pay a CAZ charge.

You’re also able to check whether you will need to pay a Congestion Zone Charge in London on the Transport for London’s website.

CAZ charge exemptions

There are some local exemptions for CAZ charges - click the links below to check local exemptions for the three cities already using or shortly introducing a CAZ:

  • Bath
  • Birmingham
  • Portsmouth

If you meet one of the following criteria for national exemption, you are automatically exempt from having to pay a charge if you have:

  • an ultra low emission vehiclea disabled passenger tax class vehicle
  • a disabled tax class vehicle
  • a military vehicle
  • a historic vehicle (N.B. this doesn’t include all pre-1973 buses and trucks)
  • a vehicle retrospectively fitted with technology that has been approved by the Clean Vehicle Retrofit
  • Accreditation Scheme
  • certain agricultural vehicles

Fleetnews.co.uk provides a full list of all proposed UK Clean Air Zones being introduced this year and next, although some of the proposed dates mentioned in this article have since been put back to allow for further recovery from the pandemic fallout.

If you have to drive through or into any of the cities that will be introducing a CAZ and your car will incur charges, there are government grants available to help you purchase a cleaner, lower emission vehicle. You should also check with your local authority if they are offering any support or incentives in this regard.

Click here for more information provided by the ‘Office for Zero Emission Vehicles’ and the government-funded schemes on offer.

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Driving Licence extensions

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, drivers with Licences that were due to expire between February and December 2020 were automatically given an additional 11 months in which to renew their Licence.

As December 2021 is almost upon us, all Driving Licence extensions are now ending and those who haven’t already applied for renewal must do so promptly and certainly before the end of this month.

DVLA has been issuing warnings to drivers for several weeks stating there is a severe backlog of Licence applications due to pandemic-induced disruption to their services. This backlog has impacted the processing time of Licence renewals, with paper applications taking between six and ten weeks, or even longer.

However, don’t panic because Section 88 of The Road Traffic Act 1988 may permit you to continue driving if you submitted your Driving Licence renewal application before your Licence expired and if it expires whilst DVLA is processing your application for a new one.

In this regard, the DVLA has brought out a guidance document called ‘Can I drive while my application is with DVLA’ so you can check whether you meet the necessary criteria to continue driving.

WARNING:  If you fail to renew your Licence in good time and drive without one (excluding the eligibility criteria allowing you to do so as outlined above), you could get 3 to 6 penalty points on your Licence and be fined up to £1,000. What’s more, driving without a valid Licence can invalidate your insurance meaning if you make a claim, it could be rejected!

DVLA are encouraging drivers to renew their License online for a quicker turnaround time and a cheaper application fee of £14 - paper applications cost £17. Contact DVLA gov uk driving licence renewal service to apply online.

Did you know you can also update your vehicle’s registered name and address details online?

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UK towing rules

From 15 November 2021, a new law will be introduced for towing meaning any driver who passed their driving test on or after 1st January 1997 will now be permitted to tow trailers up to 3,500kg maximum authorised mass (MAM).

DVLA will update your Driving Licence by adding a category BE to it to show that you are authorised to tow a trailer.

Despite this law change, the government still recommends that anyone looking to tow a trailer for the first time should seek professional training from a driving instructor.

To help, there is a full list of performance standards you should familiarise yourself with and adhere to before attempting to tow a trailer or caravan.

You can also check out Safe Driving for Life’s DVLA article on ‘why learning to tow is important’ and further guidance on towing safety checks you should conduct to ensure you are safe and legal to tow a trailer, caravan or horsebox.

If you passed your car driving test before 1 January 1997 then you do not have to worry about these changes as they will not affect you; most pre-1997 drivers are already permitted to drive a vehicle and trailer with a combined weight up to a maximum of 8,250kg MAM, or a minibus with a trailer over 750kg.

WARNING: Do not attempt to tow anything heavier before the new law comes into effect on 15 November 2021 to avoid potentially receiving 6 penalty points, a £1,000 fine or a driving ban.

You may want to read: A look back at the Covid-19 MOT extension and the impact on UK garages

 

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