What Are The Eyesight Requirements For Drivers And Lorry Drivers?


The Law Of… Driving With Bad Eyesight

Drivers should have compulsory eye tests every 10 years. That's the recommendation of the Association of Optometrists, who claim that the current laws are insufficient to keep drivers and pedestrians safe on the roads.

Head of Motoring Offences, Julie Robertson, looks at what is legally required from motorists with regards to their eyesight and the penalties they face if vision becomes a factor in a criminal case.

Compulsory Eye Tests

The call for compulsory eye tests comes in the wake of a high profile case where a driver was jailed for killing a girl. He had recently been told to stop driving due to bad eyesight.

The Association of Optometrists claim that the laws in Britain "fall behind many other countries" and that because deterioration of sight is usually a gradual process, people tend not to realise their vision has diminished over time.

So what does the law currently say about eyesight and driving?

What Are The Driving Eyesight Rules?

You are required by law to ensure your eyesight is in good enough condition to drive. This means meeting the 'standards of vision for driving'.

The Standards Of Vision For Driving (Group 1)

The standards are as follows:

  • The ability to read a post-September 2001 licence plate from 20 metres
  • Visual acuity (clarity of vision) of at least 6/12* on the Snellen scale – you must be able to see from 6 metres what somebody with normal vision can see from 12
  • Adequate field of vision that would pass an optician's test.

*Decimal equivalent – 0.5

The standards of vision for driving, including visual acuity, can be met with the use of glasses or contact lenses, so long as you use them every time you drive.

The Standards Of Vision For Lorry Drivers (Group 2)

For lorry drivers, the standards of vision are stricter:

  • A visual acuity of least 6/7.5** in your best eye – ability to see at 6 metres what somebody with normal vision can see from 7.5 metres – and at least 6/60*** in the other, as measured on the Snellen scale
  • A field vision of at least 160° across the horizontal plane, with a left and right extension of at least 70° and 30° up and down
  • No defects within the central 30° radius of your field of vision.

**Decimal equivalent – 0.8

***Decimal equivalent – 0.1

You can meet the standards of vision for lorry drivers with the use of glasses or contact lenses, so long as you use them every time you drive. Whereas there is no limit for contact lenses, your glasses must not have a corrective power in excess of +8 dioptres.

The driving eyesight rules require you to report any problems with vision to the DVLA as a health condition that could affect your driving. Failure to do so can result in a fine of up to £1,000 and prosecution if you are involved in an accident because of this.

What Are The Penalties If You Are Involved In An Accident Due To Bad Eyesight?

There is an offence of driving with uncorrected vision. However, things could be a lot worse if you are involved in an accident and your poor vision is to blame. This could result in you being charged with one of the following:

Careless and inconsiderate driving:

  • Unlimited fine
  • Possible disqualification (at the court's discretion)
  • Maximum of 9 penalty points.

Dangerous driving:

  • Maximum 2 years' imprisonment
  • Unlimited fine
  • Disqualification
  • Extended driving test.

Causing death by dangerous driving:

  • Maximum 14 years' imprisonment
  • Unlimited fine
  • Minimum 2 years' disqualification
  • Extended driving test.

If you have your licence revoked due to your eyesight and continue to drive, the possible penalties are:

  • A fine
  • Possible disqualification (at the court's discretion)
  • Penalty points.

Julie comments:

"I am regularly consulted by people who are facing revocation, or have had their licence revoked by the DVLA due to eyesight concerns. Often those clients will lose their livelihood or have their ability to earn a living severely compromised, which can affect their family and home."

"Most people are unable to persuade the DVLA to overturn the decision without representation and these cases are very time sensitive."

"A specialist motoring offence expert can advance persuasive arguments on behalf of a revoked motorist, in efforts to encourage the DVLA to restore their driving entitlement."

If you think you have had your licence unfairly revoked due to eyesight, you should seek professional assistance. Simpson Millar's Motoring Offences department offers expert legal advice and representation. Speak to one of our team today.

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