‘Serious errors’ identified in drink drive data sharing

12.24 | 9 December 2011 | | 2 comments

In a written statement to the House of Commons, Mike Penning, road safety minister, has acknowledged ‘serious errors’ in the way data relating to drink drive convictions is shared between the police, courts and DVLA.

In the statement Mr Penning said: “At the end of last year, I asked the DVLA to review communication between the courts and the DVLA. As a result of these investigations it became clear that the alcohol levels for some drink driving convictions were either not provided to the DVLA by the courts, or were inconsistent when there was a delay between the court sending the information and the reconciliation of this information by DVLA.

“These errors have been happening for more than 20 years. As a result, in some cases, driving licences were reissued to individuals whose ban had expired, but without them undergoing legally required medical tests.

“The Courts and DVLA are now implementing IT changes which will mean that their systems will not allow cases to be processed at either the Courts or DVLA unless valid alcohol readings are provided.

“Drivers convicted of drink driving offences with more than two and a half times the permitted legal alcohol limit are regarded as High Risk Offenders (HROs). The law requires that such convicted drivers are required to prove their medical fitness before they can be relicensed at the end of their disqualification period.

“As a result of the review DVLA have undertaken, I was informed that some convicted drivers who should have been treated as HROs have been granted a driving licence at the end of their disqualification on the basis of their own declaration of health, without undertaking the required medical assessment.

“In total, 265,225 driver records have been found to be missing the relevant information on alcohol levels. Correct alcohol levels have now been obtained for 50,330 of these. We have identified within this group 3,895 drivers who should have been treated as HROs – and therefore should have undergone a medical assessment – before being granted a licence following their disqualification. “These drivers present a potential risk to road safety and are being contacted so that they can undergo a medical assessment immediately. Those who fail to comply, or cannot demonstrate their medical fitness to drive, will lose their entitlement to drive.

“It is with great regret that I inform the House that we have identified two cases in 1996 and 2006 where a driver who was issued a licence without first proving their medical fitness to drive, has subsequently caused death while driving under the influence of alcohol.”

Click here to read the full ministerial statement.

Click here to read the Telegraph news report on this subject.


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    The Police have no role whatsoever in the re-issue of licences to such drivers, and as the cases cannot proceed to convictions without accurate data in the prosecution file, any errors in sharing are – as is clear from the story – between the Courts and DVLA and/or the DfT. Reference is made to the police assisting in obtaining the historical data, so as usual police budgets are wasted clearing up someone else’s mess. Situation normal!

    William Old, UK
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    Mistakes will happen and it’s good to see the problem acknowledged along with a solution implemented.

    The paper headlines the 2 motorists who were issued a licence incorrectly and subsequently caused death while driving under the influence of alcohol.

    It is not clear in those cases whether the drunk drivers killed themselves or other people.

    Dave Finney – Slough
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