You're legally allowed to drive more types of vehicles if you passed your test before 1997
| Last updated
Did you know that the date that you passed your driving test has an impact on the types of vehicles you’re legally allowed to drive?
Many of us don’t pay attention to the back of our driving licences, however, it’s important to know what the letters and numbers on it mean to know if the vehicle your diving is covered.
If it’s not, your insurance will be automatically invalid and you could face a hefty fine.
But while these codes impact what we can drive, the date that you got your driving licence also plays a part.
It also means that your parents are probably able to legally drive more vehicles than you, unless you’ve taken additional tests.
For those people who passed their driving test before 1997, they’re legally allowed to drive motorcycles, vans and lorries, without any additional tests – great news if you’re needing to hire a minibus.
But following the change to the laws which came into effect on January 1, 1997, those who passed since can not drive these category A, C and D vehicles.
And as of this month, people who pass their driving test now can only get behind the wheel of standard cars, agricultural tractors, mowing machines and small two or three wheeled vehicles (classed as categories B, F, K, Q and AM).
Greg Wilson, founder of insurance comparison platform Quotezone.co.uk told the Sun: “There are many different types of vehicles, and it is important for drivers to know what they are legally allowed to drive so that they avoid penalties and ensure their moto insurance is valid.”
He added: “The rules of the road are constantly evolving. 2022 has been a significant year for change, most notably the updates to the Highway Code in January that gave more priority to vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians, so it’s best practice for all road users to keep themselves up to speed with the latest additions.”
If you’re caught driving a vehicle your licence doesn’t cover, you could face a £300 fixed penalty fine and six penalty points.
So, what do these letters on the back of your licence mean?
- AM: Two or three wheeled vehicles with a maximum speed of between 15.5 and 28 mph, and maximum weight of 350kg.
- A1: Motor tricycles with a power output of up to 15kW. Motorbikes with an engine size up to 125cc, power output of up to 11kW, and a power to weight ratio no more than 0.1kW/kg.
- A2: Motorbikes with a maximum power output up to 35kW, and power to weight ratio of 0.2kW/kg. This also covers motorbikes in the A1 category.
- A: Motorbikes with power output over 35kW, or power to weight ratio of 0.2kW/kg. Motor tricycles with a power output over 15kW. A1 and A2 motorbikes are also covered.
- B1: Motor vehicles with four wheels with a maximum weight of 550kg if they are designed for carrying goods, or 400 kg if they are not carrying a load.
- B: A standard car. If you passed your test after 1st January 1997, you can drive vehicles with a maximum combined weight of 3500kg and eight passenger seats. You can also drive motor tricycles with a power output over 15kW if you are over 21. If you passed before 1st January 1997, you can drive a combined weight of 8250kg, and a minibus with a trailer over 750kg.
- C1: Vehicles with a maximum weight between 3,500 and 7,500 kg, with a trailer up to 750kg.
- C: Vehicles over 3,500kg, with a trailer up to 750kg.
- D1: Vehicles with no more than 16 passenger seats, a maximum length of 8 metres, and a trailer up to 750kg.
- D: Any bus with more than eight passenger seats, with a trailer up to 750kg.
- BE: Vehicle with maximum weight of 3,500kg with a trailer.
- C1E: category vehicles with a trailer over 750kg, however the combined weight cannot exceed 12,000kg.
- CE: Category C vehicles with a trailer over 750kg.
- D1E: Category D1 vehicles with a trailer over 750kg, yet the combined weight cannot exceed 12,000kg.
- DE: Category D vehicles with a trailer over 750kg.
- F: Agricultural tractors.
- K: Mowing machines and pedestrian-controlled vehicles.
- Q: Two and three wheeled vehicles without pedals, with a maximum engine size of 50cc and speed of 15mph.