The government had announced a plan to change the law relating to the towing of a trailer or caravan. At the moment, any driver with a driving licence awarded after 1997 needs to take a B+E car and trailer test before they are allowed to pull a heavy trailer behind a car. A change was announced removing that requirement which was due to come into force on the 15th November 2021, but it has not done so.
Why has it not come into force?
The statutory instrument, Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) (Amendment) (No.2) Regulations 2021, was laid on 16th September but was not approved in time for them to come into force on the 15th November.
What happens now?
This type of statutory instrument cannot be amended once it has been laid in draft, so other action must be taken. The regulations have to be laid afresh as the draft Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) (Amendment) (No.5) Regulations 2021.
In order to make quicker progress, the government says it will use the urgency procedure under paragraph 14(6) of Schedule 8 to the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. This paragraph is said to be an enhanced scrutiny procedure for instruments that amend or revoke subordinate legislation under section 2(2) of the ECA (including subordinate legislation implementing EU directives).
The reason this legislation can be used is that it was an EU Directive that placed a limit on the weight of trailers that particular drivers could tow.
The use of the urgency procedure means that the Regulations can be laid earlier as the 28-day publication period is foregone. Arrangements are also being put in place to make sure the changes introduced by the Regulations will be operationally effective as soon as they come into force.
The law in the meantime
If you want to tow a trailer or caravan that is heavier than 750kg using a tow vehicle weighing up to 3500kg, you will need category B+E on your licence. If you obtained your licence before January 1997, you automatically have this category.
If you do not have the category on your licence, you need to take a car and trailer test, which covers road driving skills (a practical test), closed course skills and a practical demonstration.
The new law
Once the new law is passed, you will no longer need to take a test if you obtained your licence after 1997, saving around £115 on the test cost.
The BE categories will automatically be added to relevant licences, and there will be no need for individual licence holders to contact the DVLA.
If you tow anything too heavy without the categories on your licence before the law change, you could be fined and have six penalty points imposed on your licence.
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Whatever your personal circumstances the above is only a guide and we would advise you to contact us to obtain definitive advice as you will appreciate that each person’s circumstances are unique to them.
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