How To Appeal A Driving Test

Image of a gavel and a red book

Taking your driving test—whether it’s your first or fifth attempt—can be a stressful and nerve-wracking experience. As you’d imagine, these feelings are intensified if you’re unfortunate enough to have failed. In most cases, learners know they’re at fault the moment they make a mistake in their practical. In other cases however, learners feel like the examiner is treating them unfairly or misjudging their ability in a discriminatory fashion. This kind of scenario often leads to questions as to whether it’s possible to appeal a driving test. 

In short, it is possible to appeal a driving test. But what exactly does it entail? We’re going to look at the moments that lead up to and follow failing a practical, the process of your appeal and what happens next.


Failing your driving test

young driver holding the steering wheel

Unfortunately, as some of you may know, failure is always a possibility for people taking their practical test. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first time doing it or your tenth time, there’s always something that might trip you up—as we’ve covered in the top 5 reasons people failed their driving test

Sometimes, practical test nerves get the best of us. Other times, it’s just a case of a few small slip-ups that add up along the way. The important thing to remember is that you’re not alone.

Figuring out where you went wrong

During your practical test, you’re allowed to make up to 15 driving faults (minors) but no serious or dangerous faults (majors). Example faults include:

  • Moving away: not completing proper checks before moving off is a minor fault—possibly a major fault if you move away when it’s not safe. 
  • Emergency stop: you need to show ultimate control when stopping quickly. Some students make the mistake of using both the clutch and footbrake. Want to test your reaction time? Try out the PassMeFast emergency stop game.
  • Turn in the road: if you can’t complete the manoeuvre within five moves or you touch the kerb, you’ll get a minor fault.
  • Starting the engine: if the car’s in gear, you don’t press the clutch or the handbrake isn’t applied, you’ll run into several problems.

At the end of your test, the examiner will tell you what faults you made. You’ll get a feedback sheet which will be vital in helping you improve your driving in the future. If you know which areas you’re weakest in, you’ll be able to work on them before you resit your practical. And if your driving instructor observed your practical, they’ll be able to give you further feedback. You might, for example, return to a particular road feature—like a roundabout—that tripped you up during your test so that you don’t make the same mistake twice. 

Usually, most students agree with the decision the examiner comes to. You don’t necessarily have to be happy about it, but you should be able to recognise your own limitations and mistakes.


Appealing a driving test

Judge's gavel and an open book

When can you appeal a driving test? 

While some students accept the final decision made by the examiner, some will find an issue. The likelihood of you getting a positive outcome when appealing a driving test however, depends entirely on the reasons for your appeal.

If you’re convinced that you’re a great driver and that the examiner doesn’t know what they’re talking about (despite their many years of experience), you probably don’t have grounds to appeal a driving test. Why is this? Examiners don’t want to fail students just because they can. If you want to appeal a driving test, it has to be because the examiner didn’t follow regulations. You also have grounds to appeal if you feel like the examiner is deliberately failing you or treating you in a discriminatory or malicious manner.

What result can I expect?

If you were hoping that appealing a driving test would overturn the decision made by the examiner, you’ll be very disappointed.

Even if the DVSA found that your examiner had a history of failing students or multiple complaints regarding their overall ability,  they can’t make a decision regarding your driving ability. After all, your situation might have been one of the few cases in which the examiner was correct. The DVSA can’t assess your driving competence or lack thereof. They can, however, look into whether a learner’s allegations against an examiner are sustainable or not.

While the result of your practical test can’t be overturned, a successful appeal might result in you getting a free retest—saving you £62

How does the process work?

If you want to complain about your practical test, you can contact the DVSA by email, phone or post. You’ll get a reply within 10 working days. There’s a different process however, to appeal a driving test.

You can appeal if you think that your examiner wasn’t following regulations when they carried out your practical test. The test result won’t be changed, but you could get a free retest if you’re successful. You have to appeal to a:

  • Magistrate’s court within 6 months if you took your test in England or Wales.
  • Sheriff’s court within 21 days if you took your test in Scotland.

Get back behind the wheel

Road trip

While failing can be a heart-breaking moment, it doesn’t have to be the end of your driving experience. As we said earlier, sometimes it can be something minuscule that contributes to your downfall. If that’s the case for you, you might want to try out a refresher course—ideal for people who are almost test-ready but looking for additional lessons to tackle any major problems. 

The longer you wait between practical tests, the more likely your practice will slip. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about long driving test waiting times with PassMeFast—by taking advantage of driving test cancellations we can book you a fast-track practical test to get you on the road that much sooner. 

Give us a call on 0333 123 4949 or book a course online and push that driving test fail to the back of your mind!

Need some cheering up? Take a look at our top 5 PassMeFast passes this summer

By Bethany Hall

Whether you’re a learner or a pro driver, Bethany is here to help. From defensive driving to the Highway Code, she’ll tell you everything you need know about driving. If she’s not on the road, you’ll probably find Bethany with her head in a book or binge-watching the latest TV show.