DVLA and Roadside checks


Technology has been developed by the DVLA and the Home Office for police officers to use at the roadside to confirm the identity of a driver.

The technology allows instant access to a photograph of the driver. The picture is held on the DVLA driver’s database, and immediate access is provided to officers dealing with motoring offences.

The technology is currently being used by 18 police forces, with a plan to roll it out to a further ten forces over the next few weeks.

The real reason for the development of the technology is to speed up processes. At the moment, it can take up to sixteen minutes for an officer to confirm a person’s identity. An officer may have to conduct further checks on the information given by a driver, and in some cases, it can lead to a person’s arrest for their identity to be verified.

The use of the technology is currently limited to motoring offences and was first piloted in the summer of 2019. In the time to June 2021, the following benefits are said to have occurred:

  • 14,000 hours saved by Road Police Unit Officers and local Policing Officers
  • roadside checks are 66% faster, meaning less time wasted by drivers
  • the police accessed 86,513 images to identify drivers at the roadside.

The system works by the officer searching the police national computer (also known as PNC) for the driving licence number, which is unique to the individual. That is used to obtain the correct image from the DVLA, which can be checked with the driver. The image is only accessible during the check and is not retained. The access to DVLA records is confined to use for the purpose of enforcing road traffic offences.

The 18 forces currently using the technology are:

  • Sussex
  • Surrey
  • Lancashire
  • Leicestershire
  • Lincolnshire
  • Northamptonshire
  • The City of London Police
  • Police Scotland
  • PSNI
  • South Yorkshire
  • Humberside
  • Dyfed-Powys
  • Gloucestershire
  • West Yorkshire
  • Devon and Cornwall
  • Merseyside
  • Dorset
  • Derbyshire

More technological advances are planned, including the digitalisation of provisional driving licences to be assessed before looking at a digital licence for full licence holders.

During lockdown, the DVLA also introduced new digital services for transactions. These include an online application for a tachograph card, a digitalisation of paper-based prosecutions, and an online service to change an address on a vehicle log book (V5C) 

How can we help?

We ensure we keep up to date with any changes in legislation and case law so that we are always best placed to advise you properly. If you would like to discuss any aspect of your case, please contact our team of criminal defence solicitors on 02078373456

[Image credit: Crown Copyright ]