I want to get my career started, says teenager facing seven-month licence delay

An MP has criticised what he called ‘gross discrimination’ in the service the DVLA is providing to people who declare a medical condition.

14 March 2022

A 17-year-old had to put life plans on hold and a HGV driver lost his job after experiencing long waits during licence applications to the DVLA.

Both cases are examples of a wider issue, according to SNP MP Peter Grant, who has criticised what he called “gross discrimination” in the service the DVLA is providing to people who declare a medical condition when applying for a licence, albeit he is not suggesting this is intentional.

Jennifer Kirchacz, 17, lives in Windygates, Fife.

She has epilepsy but although she believes she meets the criteria for a driver’s licence, she has not received her provisional, despite, she says, sending off her forms in July 2021.

Jennifer says it took the DVLA seven months to get back to her following her initial application, only to say further information was needed.

She had been due to start a dog grooming course but she was relying on travelling by car and has had to put those plans on hold.

Ms Kirchacz said: “It’s just quite upsetting. I don’t really find it fair because all my friends are now driving and a few of them have passed.

“I applied actually before all of them pretty much, all their birthdays are after mine, and they’re all driving.

“I want to get started with my career. It’s pretty rubbish.”

Her mum, Julie Brownlie, said: “Definitely it’s discrimination. Her friends who don’t have a disability, they have all got their licences back.”

She added: “I have no issue that they want to check the information is correct, I’m all for them checking with the specialists, but they need to do it in timely way and not discriminate against people who have a condition.

“I can understand a few days longer for processing, but to wait seven months to send a form that needs to be filled in – that’s just ridiculous.”

James Porterfield, 60, lives in Leslie, Fife.

Although technically self-employed, he says he lost his regular job working as an HGV driver because of a long wait for the DVLA to sort his application.

After sending off his medical forms, he says it took the DVLA five months to respond, only to ask for more information.

During that time he said he tried to get the issue resolved, including one day when he spent six hours on the phone to the DVLA.

“It’s pretty tough. I’m 60 years old, I’ve been working since I left school at 16. I’ve never been out of work in my life,” he said, adding “there’s loads of people that I know that are having the same issues”.

James Porterfield
James Porterfield (Family handout/PA)

He added: “I’m very angry with them (the DVLA). I know it’s been tough through Covid for everybody, but it’s starting to affect people’s jobs, which affects their life.”

“Five months to say we need the doctor to confirm this – it’s taken them five months to do that”, he said, adding “I’ve lost my job through it.”

The DVLA said it does not comment on individual cases.

The DVLA acknowledges paper application services currently have longer waiting times and it says the service is expected to recover by the end of May, with medical services expected to return to pre-pandemic levels by September.

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