Lockdown costs learners £1m in expired theory tests

Lockdown has cost learner drivers more than £1 million as tens of thousands of theory tests have expired during the pause on driving tests.

Practical testing was suspended from March 23 as part of measures to stop the spread of coronavirus, and is not due to resume until July 22 in England and later across the rest of the UK.

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In that time, more than 40,000 theory test pass certificates will have expired at a cost of £23 per certificate, amounting to £1,120,215.

Theory test certificates are valid for two years after passing the test, allowing drivers up to 24 months to sit and pass their practical test. However, with practical tests on hold since March only key workers have been able to sit their practical test.

The DVSA has said that despite the unusual circumstances, theory test certificates cannot be extended “in any circumstances” and anyone whose certificate has expired will have to book and pay for another theory test.

Calls for extension

Theory tests will resume in England on July 4. A date for their resumption in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales is still to be confirmed.

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The estimated loss is based on data obtained from the DVSA by car insurer Marmalade. According to official figures, an average of 399 theory test certificates expired every day between March 23 and June 22 - the original date tests were expected to restart. This cost learners £826,551, with the additional gap until they actually resume predicted to cost another £293,664.

Crispin Moger, CEO of Marmalade, said the exceptional circumstances should see learners given a three-month extension to their pass certificate.

He commented: “I don’t doubt that there will have been many learner drivers that were planning to take their test during this period and now will have lost out due to the lockdown. Learners whose certificates have expired will need to take the test and pass it again before they can take their practical driving test adding yet more time to their wait.

“For some this is just another roadblock to gaining freedom and will be a hindrance to many where a driving test pass was at the centre of their plans. That’s why we have launched a petition to ask the Government to extend these certificates by three months to allow learners the chance to qualify as drivers as soon as it’s possible, something which will also ease waiting times and pressure on theory test centres once they reopen.”