Motorists hit by last-minute delay to car and trailer driving law changes

DVSA backtracks on plan to change car and trailer test requirements for millions

A planned change to driving laws due to come into effect today (Monday 15 November) has been put on hold at the last minute.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) announced on Thursday that the intended change to the car and trailer licensing rules would not be implemented as planned and would instead be delayed indefinitely.

The change would have affected millions of drivers, allowing them to tow a large trailer or caravan without having to sit a separate driving test.

The plan was first mooted earlier this year as part of measures to ease pressure on examiners carrying out HGV tests. In October, the DVSA confirmed that the rules would change on 15 November “subject to parliamentary approval”.

The change would allow some drivers to tow heavier caravans without sitting a separate test

However, in an update published via its website late last week, the testing body said the change would not go ahead as planned.

The update advised drivers: “Updated to confirm that the rules about what you can tow will not change on 15 November 2021. The change will be introduced at a later date, and as soon as possible.”

The planned change had a potential impact on millions of drivers who passed their test after 1996.

As the law currently stands, anyone who passed their driving test on or after 1 January 1997 must pass a separate B+E car and trailer test in order to tow anything heavier than 750kg.

The expected change would have removed this requirement and allowed anyone to tow a trailer weighing up to 3,500kg without any additional training or testing.

The DVSA scrapped all B+E driving tests in September in anticipation of the planned law change, leaving some motorists in limbo as they waited for the rules on licences to change.

Anyone who passed their test after 1996 and who doesn’t have a B+E qualification could be fined up to £1,000 and given six penalty points if caught towing anything heavier than 750kg.

The change was intended to free up examiners to carry out more HGV tests to address the country’s ongoing shortage of lorry drivers.

Other changes have gone ahead as planned, including allowing learner HGV drivers to sit their articulated vehicle test without having to sit a test in a rigid lorry first.