As the UK prepares to embrace the digital driving licence next month, we should all be cautious about what is coming. A digital driving licence is certainly a step above the old system of utilising paper licences to record convictions and other offences, but it is by no means a panacea. Furthermore, not even a digital driving licence can be counted on as being 100% accurate. Just ask a terribly embarrassed woman from the United States.
Driving licences are maintained on a state-by-state basis in the US. In Florida, they have been using digital driving licences for more than a decade. They went digital for much the same reasons we are making the switch. However, for one unfortunate woman, her driving licence fell victim to a clerical worker who incorrectly input some information in the computer. The result was a new driving licence that listed the woman as a sex offender.
News reports say the woman went into her local Department of Motor Vehicles office to pick up her new licence. Consumers are supposed to check their licences for errors prior to leaving so, in the event a mistake is found, it can be immediately corrected and a new licence issued. This woman apparently did not do so. She briefly scanned her licence and went on her way.
She later produced her licence in court to settle a traffic citation. Noticing a strange reaction from staff who looked at her licence for identification purposes, the woman took a closer second look herself. That is when she discovered the 'sexual predator' label in the lower right-hand corner. She took the licence back to the department of motor vehicles to get a replacement. They promptly issued an apology along with a new document.
Licence Checking Is Important
This story serves an important reminder that human error is still possible even in the era of digital driving licences. It shows how much trouble can occur by a simple data input error by a government clerk. Had this woman not recognised the error so soon after receiving her new licence, she could have run into significant trouble down the road whenever she produced her driving licence as identification. Furthermore, what if the clerical error had included traffic convictions that would have barred her from driving or increased her insurance rates?
The new digital driving licence in the UK is an improvement over the old system. Yet it is not foolproof. Checking driving licences is imperative for both the individual consumer and the company with business vehicles. Owners and managers should be routinely checking licences to make sure those driving company vehicles have a good record and are legally allowed to do so.
Fleet Licence Check is a UK company specialising in motoring claims and licence checking. We have direct access to the DVLA database, allowing us to check licences at any time. You just provide the necessary driver information and we submit the check. Results are returned directly to you.