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Driving Newsletter - Tips and Advice on Passing your Driving Test

Eyesight Requirements for Driving

Eye, eye! Sight requirements for the practical test

  • Driving test eyesight requirements

You should have informed the DVLA of any sight issues when you applied for your provisional licence. ‘Sight issues’ doesn’t include things like long- or short-sightedness, however. If you wear glasses or contact lenses for day to day life (excluding reading, generally) then you’re required to wear them whilst driving.

To make sure your eyesight meets the required standards for driving, you’ll be asked to read a car number plate at the beginning of your practical driving test (the car’s parked, so don’t worry about having to read one whilst driving). The distance between you and the number plate in question is at least:
• 20.5 metres for vehicles with an old registration plate e.g. A422 xxx
• 20 metres for vehicles with the new registration plate e.g. AB02 xxx

You’ll be given three chances to read a number plate at the correct distance. If you don’t get it right the first time, the examiner will choose a different number plate. If you don’t get that right, he’ll let you move forward until you’re just at the minimum distance (see above). If you still don’t get it right, he’ll pick another number plate. And if that one doesn’t do the trick, then it’s a straight fail.

It may seem a little mercenary to fail someone without even starting the engine, but if you can’t read a number plate at that distance you might not be able to see a child run out in front of you, or see a road sign or traffic light. It’s harsh, but necessary.

If your English isn’t great or you have difficulty reading, you can write down what you see rather than saying it. Wearing glasses or contact lenses.

Wearing glasses or contact lenses

If you need to wear them to read the number plate, that means you need them to drive all the time, and you should keep them on (or in) for the duration. You can’t take them out for manoeuvres, otherwise you’ll be reminded that it’s illegal. Put up a fuss, and the examiner will fail you. Simples.

If you’ve forgotten your glasses or lenses (or anything else you need), tell the examiner at the start of the test. They won’t let you take the test, but they won’t fail you.

It’s an important distinction, because if you don’t tell the examiner, and then you can’t read the number plate, then they will fail you. That means they’ll tell the DVLA your eyesight isn’t good enough, and the DVLA will revoke (cancel) your provisional licence. So then you’ll have to pay to reapply for your licence, and take your theory test again, and then the practical… frankly, it’s not worth the hassle. So don’t try to blag it – be honest, and you’ll save everyone a whole lot of trouble.

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