'Cassie's Law': drivers who fail eye tests can lose licences within hours

Now takes police minutes rather than days to force drivers off the road

by Sarah Barth   February 2, 2013  

Spectacles

Drivers who fail eye tests can have their licences removed within hours under a change in rules that streamlines the process for revoking a licence and allows police to get faster responses from the roadside.

Previously, police had to fax or send by post a request to the DLVA to remove a licence from a driver who failed a roadside eye test - leaving the driver free to drive in the meantime.

But now they will be allowed to email or telephone - which should see the time taken to revoke a licence cut dramatically - according to some estimates it should be possible for a driver to have his or her licence removed by the police at the roadside. It will certainly be accomplished in hours rather than days.

The change was inspired by and campaigned for by Jackie McCord, whose daughter was killed in 2011 by an elderly motorist who police had told not to drive.

Following 16-year-old Cassie McCord's death, 45,000 people signed a petition for the change.

She was hit by driver Colin Horsfall on a pavement as she was on her way to college. But Horsfall shouldn't really have been on the roads at all; three days earlier, he failed a police eye test when he drove into the exit of a petrol station.

He had refused to surrender his licence and police were trying to get it revoked when Cassie was hit.

Road safety minister Stephen Hammond told the BBC: 'We have every sympathy with Mrs McCord and would like to thank her for her valuable work in raising awareness of this issue.

"The DVLA and the police have worked closely to greatly streamline the process for revoking a licence when the police identify that a driver's eyesight is inadequate.

'The decision whether to revoke a driving licence on medical grounds remains with the DVLA, though the process for informing drivers that their licence has been revoked has now been accelerated."

Alan Jones, the Police Federation's roads policing lead for England and Wales, said: "It seems absolute nonsense a police officer who knows someone has defective eyesight has not been able to do anything.

"We believe what the Department for Transport has suggested is something which would work.

"I know Cassie's Law asked for the police officer to have the authority to suspend a licence. In this suggestion, the officer acts as a conduit and we are happy with that."

As we reported last year, nearly 6000 drivers had their licences revoked in 2011 because their eyesight was so poor, a 10 per cent rise on the previous year - and among bus and lorry drivers a 39 per cent rise.

5,285 licences for cars and motorbikes and 685 lorry and bus drivers's licences were stopped last year because holders could not pass a standard eye test.

11 user comments

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Not trying to be the pedant but do the second and third paragraphs mean exactly what they say? I wonder if "- which could take several days - leaving the driver free to drive in the meantime." should be attached to the second para about faxing.

This is apart from the "telephne".

Ok trying to be the pedant : )

posted by horizontal dropout [148 posts]
2nd February 2013 - 20:30

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horizontal dropout wrote:
Not trying to be the pedant but do the second and third paragraphs mean exactly what they say? I wonder if "- which could take several days - leaving the driver free to drive in the meantime." should be attached to the second para about faxing.

This is apart from the "telephne".

Ok trying to be the pedant : )

If you are being pedantic, I fear you are not alone, because the same thought went through my mind!

I also thought that the first sentence was worthy of a quote on HIGNFY - "Drivers who fail a police eye test can see....."

But seriously though, how many police forces will enforce this? I don't hold out much hope. I note my local force, Surrey, is going to crack down on "vehicle crime" but their definition of this is rather different from mine - knicking of or from cars, rather than speeding, drink driving or dangerous driving.

And did this elderly driver face a criminal prosecution for causing death by dangerous driving? He certainly should have done, as he knew his eyseight was defective and he had specifically refused to comply with a police instruction.

posted by Paul M [309 posts]
2nd February 2013 - 20:40

1 Like

"did this elderly driver face a criminal prosecution for causing death by dangerous driving?"

Good question.

Can anyone enlighten us?

PJ McNally's picture

posted by PJ McNally [586 posts]
2nd February 2013 - 21:07

3 Likes

Ah - from the google -

he was 87. And now he is dead.

PJ McNally's picture

posted by PJ McNally [586 posts]
2nd February 2013 - 21:10

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If the police had told the driver not to drive, and he refused, the police then went through the process of getting his licence revoked.

I have one question, would he have just carried on driving without a licence?

Not complaining about the law, more asking whether it will change anything?

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1075 posts]
2nd February 2013 - 21:40

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Probably nothing to stop you, although that's no reason not to change the law - you could prob use the same argument about a lot of offences. And I'd guess that if you got caught driving again the consequences would be a lot more serious - that's if you hadn't already been involved in a much more serious incident.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4136 posts]
2nd February 2013 - 22:12

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This is progress. What we need now is powers for temporary revocation of a licence for poor driving, not just poor eyesight.

Bez's picture

posted by Bez [372 posts]
2nd February 2013 - 22:52

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It may be the way I'm reading this news item but to me it still appears to be;- a police officer pulls over a driver who then fails a road-side eye test conducted by the PC the PC uses his phone to contact DVLA who then might or might not revoke the drivers licence BUT until the DVLA inform the (who is now a dangerous) driver by snail mail he/she is still entitled to drive.

Please tell me I've got it wrong I know it said hours rather than days in the article but that would still mean that the PC either has to stay with the driver (which means a waste of a valuable and nowadays a shrinking resource) or has to let him/her drive away.

FATBEGGARONABIKE's picture

posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [584 posts]
3rd February 2013 - 8:57

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The police can ask you to surrender your licence, but if you refuse, they have to ask the DVLA for permission to formally revoke it.
Before, they had to write and get permission - that could take days. Now, they can make a call and get, presumably verbal, confirmation that they can stop the driver driving away.

Sarah Barth's picture

posted by Sarah Barth [977 posts]
3rd February 2013 - 9:09

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Sarah I must be very dense this morning or I'm missreading the last paragraph by Alan Jones, the Police Federation's roads policing lead for England and Wales. Where he says that PC's can only act as conduits and cannot suspend licences.

FATBEGGARONABIKE's picture

posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [584 posts]
3rd February 2013 - 9:18

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This is some progress, but the real problem is the ridiculous system which allows drivers to simply declare that they are fit to drive (licence renewal every 3 years from age 70 onwards) and not provide any evidence - a certified eye test result in the last 12 months, and/or doctor certificate of fitness might be a start.
I know of someone who lives in the same village as some friends, who despite knowing they need glasses to see properly, will not wear them for vanity reasons. This is a lady in her 70's who drives around having near misses and nobody will go in her car. This is crazy, the police have to wait until someone gets hurt or killed before they can stop a dangerous idiot from driving?

Doc

posted by doc [167 posts]
3rd February 2013 - 19:01

3 Likes