There has been a lot of recent press coverage over eyesight standards and driving. Many of us also know drivers with questionable vision. UK drivers are being targeted to test their eyesight after a DVLA survey revealed 50% of motorists are not aware of the minimum eyesight standards needed for a licence.
Police forces are now routinely checking the eyesight of every driver stopped by the police for any violation and if the DVLA standard is not met the licence will be immediately revoked. Police say data from the tests will be used to improve understanding of the extent of poor driver vision.
Most importantly, after a person has obtained a licence it is up to them to inform the DVLA if they develop vision problems. The onus is on the driver to be aware of the rules.
You must wear glasses or contact lenses every time you drive if you need them to meet the ‘standards of vision for driving’. You must tell DVLA if you’ve got any problem with your eyesight that affects both of your eyes, or the remaining eye if you only have one eye.
This doesn’t include being short or long sighted or colour blind. You also don’t need to say if you’ve had surgery to correct short-sightedness and can meet the eyesight standards. Check if you need to tell DVLA about your eyesight problem by searching the A to Z of medical conditions that could affect your driving. You can be fined up to £1,000 if you don’t tell DVLA about a medical condition that affects your driving. You may be prosecuted if you’re involved in an accident as a result.
You could be prosecuted if you drive without meeting the standards of vision for driving.
You must be able to read (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) a car number plate made after 1 September 2001 from 20 metres.
You must also meet the minimum eyesight standard for driving by having a visual acuity of at least decimal 0.5 (6/12) measured on the Snellen scale (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) using both eyes together or, if you have sight in one eye only, in that eye.
You must also have an adequate field of vision – your optician can tell you about this and do a test.
Ignorantia juris non excusat (ignorance of the law excuses not) is a legal principle holding that a person who is unaware of a law may not escape liability for violating that law merely because one was unaware of its content.
The importance of making sure your eyesight is of a standard approved by the DVLA for driving cannot be over-emphasised, especially as it could render your motor insurance invalid if it is not, and land you with a prosecution, a fine, possible points on your licence and in some cases, disqualification from driving. Not to mention of course the danger you could be putting yourself and other road users under.