Consumer research for older and disabled people

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The law and motoring

Driving licence

Mobility Centres or disabled drivers' organisations can help you find a driving instructor who specialises in teaching disabled drivers. They use cars with adapted controls or will teach you in your own car.

Drivers of adapted cars take the same test as everyone else. If you drive an adapted car and you have told the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), details will appear in code form on your licence. The adaptations recorded are:

  • modified transmission
  • modified clutch
  • modified braking and acceleration systems
  • modified control layouts
  • modified steering
  • modified rear view mirrors
  • modified driving seats.

Note: you can only drive cars with similar equipment.

There's no top age limit to driving. You have to renew your licence at 70 and every three years after that. A form will be sent to you by the DVLA.

You must tell them of any disability when applying for a licence for the first time. You must also tell them if you have a new medical condition or one which has got worse since you passed your driving test or since your last licence was issued. Conditions you have to tell them about include:

  • fits or blackouts or seizures
  • diabetes
  • angina attacks which are provoked by driving
  • memory problems
  • stroke, brain injury, brain surgery
  • pacemaker
  • difficulty in using your arms or legs
  • any visual condition which affects both eyes.

You may be sent a questionnaire and will be asked to give permission for the Medical Advisor to contact your doctor or specialist. If your driving licence is for automatic cars only, you must make sure the clutch pedal is removed if you have adapted a manual gearbox.

Read more at www.gov.uk/driverhealth or in their leaflet 'What you need to know about driving licences', available from post offices.

Vehicle Excise Duty (Road Tax)

You don't have to pay Road Tax if you get the Higher Rate Mobility Component of the Disability Living Allowance or the War Pensioner's Mobility Supplement.

If you are not the driver you have to provide the name of whoever will drive for you. The vehicle must be registered in your or your nominee's name. It must be used only by you or for your benefit - such as to do your shopping. Anyone can drive it as long as they are insured.

To claim, get an exemption certificate from the Disability Living Allowance Unit of the Department for Work and Pensions or the Veterans Agency.

Disability Living Allowance Unit of the Department for Work and Pensions
Tel: 

08457 123 456

Email: 

Veterans UK
Tel: 

0808 1914 2 18

Email: 

You can then get your free tax disc at post offices which issue road tax, or by post. If the dealer is registering your new vehicle for you, you will need to let them have your certificate. Renewals can be made online.

Motability Contract Hire vehicles don't need a certificate - the tax disc is arranged by Motability.

Insurance

Under the Equality Act (2010), insurers are not allowed to refuse disabled drivers insurance or charge extra without justifying evidence. Premiums must be based on a reasonable assessment of risk. Insurers will take account of any DVLA restrictions on your licence, but this is not in itself justification for a higher premium. However, you may have to pay more:

  • while you are adjusting to a new disability if there is evidence that this will increase the risk
  • to cover any extra cost of repairing an adapted vehicle.

As with all insurance, shop around to get the best deal. If you feel you're being charged more for your policy than other drivers in similar circumstances, ask the insurance company for details of why they consider you to be a greater risk. Mobility Centres and disabled drivers' organisations have lists of specialist insurance companies which may include the following companies which specialise in insurance services for disabled people:

Blue Badge parking scheme

The Blue Badge scheme allows disabled people with severe walking difficulties to park close to their destinations. The scheme also applies to registered blind people, people with severe upper limb disabilities in both arms who regularly drive a car, and children under three with specific medical conditions.

You can use designated disabled parking bays in car parks and on the street, park for up to three hours on single and double yellow lines and often park for free in local authority car parks and bays (check first, as some local authorities still charge). In Central London boroughs, parking is only in designated bays.

Local councils deal with applications and issue badges so contact them if you have any questions about the Blue Badge scheme.

Also, you can also contact the Initial Enquiry Support Service:

For more information, go to the Government website www.gov.uk/apply-blue-badge

Last updated: December 2016