How To Appeal A Driving Test


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—like our 10 hour driving 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. Had your test cancelled? You might be able to make a claim—check out our guide to late driving test cancellations for more information. 

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.


  1. Reply


    Dad was doing his test today in Larne and apparently when driving along changing into 1st, 2nd, 3rd,4th and 5th you have to look in your mirrors. Obviously that would be required slowing down but wouldn’t expect it while driving along the road. Am I correct or wrong on this

    1. Reply

      Bethany Hall

      Hi Matt,

      Throughout the driving test, candidates are expected to carry out frequent observations to ensure they’re aware of any changes on the road. They’re also expected to do so when they either speed up or slow down – essentially, you need to do so whenever you change gear. Checking your mirrors should not require you to slow down much, if at all, as drivers should be able to do both at the same time.

      Hope this clears things up for you.


  2. Reply


    Hi my son has just failed his test because the examiner said he went too close to a parked car. He gave him an award for eco safe driving and only got 2 minors, so seems unfair he was failed for that, when the rest of his test was fine. Also his instructor (not examiner) told him before his test that a lad had just taken his test and passed even though he did 28 in a 20mph zone, surely that is dangerous driving, So how does that make sense?

    1. Reply

      Bethany Hall

      Hi Bob,

      I’m sorry that happened to your son. It’s always disappointing to fail when you’ve put in so much hard work. Unfortunately, the examiner’s verdict is final in the driving test. The only course of action you can really take here is to appeal the test – bearing in mind that the only successful outcome is receiving a free retest – or book another test yourself.

      Hope this helps.


  3. Reply

    Pam Fullagar

    Hi Bethany my grandson has had 2 failures recently both by the same examiner, the first he reversed parked into a specific bay and one wheel was touching the white line, failed. The second he was approaching a pelican crossing, the lights had turned through the sequence to green and someone stepped off the kerb in front of him, he stopped the car, as did another driver approaching in the opposite direction, failed for stopping, instructor said he should have carried on, possibly injuring someone, failed, could you claryfy, because as a driver my self I would have bibbed to make the pedestrian aware, but apparently you can’t do that either on your test

    1. Reply

      Bethany Hall

      Hi Pam,

      I’m so sorry to hear that. If you want to read up on the rules regarding using your car horn, you can do so here. In regards to the examiner’s reasoning for failing your grandson, it’s unfortunately something that can’t be overturned. I’d recommend that your grandson takes his instructor with him on his next test. That way, his instructor can walk him through where he went wrong afterwards (if he does fail), or even act as a witness to the examiner treating him unfairly.

      Hope this helps,


  4. Reply

    Dawn Southern

    Hi My son failed his test recently in his own car. When the instructor got in the car they asked if he had a pen, |No he said, she asked why not. He said it wasnt in the list of things to bring on line, the instructor said a car isnt on it either but you brought that. So already he was feeling silly even before he started his test. Then the instructor chatted to him about his holiday and he said i had to give short answers cos i was concentrating. He failed on a dual carriageway in the right lane he didnt quite reach the speed. The instructor said he drove perfectly but didnt just reach the speed so probably very near. My son thought he had passed as he was told that with corona virus if you have a major the instructor says to go back to the test centre as you have failed and wont be spending longer than necessary with you in the car. Is all of this above board.

    1. Reply

      Bethany Hall

      Hi Dawn,

      I’m so sorry to hear that! Many learners find it difficult to talk to the examiner and concentrate during their tests, so your son’s struggle is completely understandable. With regards to major faults, the test is usually supposed to be cut short – as you said, so that the examiner and student aren’t spending unnecessary time in the car. With your son’s test, however, it could be that he was already close to the test centre on his way back – making it pointless to stop the test. It could also be the case that he accumulated too many minors, as opposed to making one single major fault.

      In any case, it seems completely above board. If your son needs some extra help preparing for his next test, I’d recommend checking out our guide on what to do if you fail the practical test.

      Hope this helps!


  5. Reply


    Hi Bethany,
    I just failed my driving test today in Speke. The examiner used the brake when I moving off. The situation is that I parked in the left side of the road and having at least 50 yards away from a cross behind. I checked all mirrors and left and right blind pots and prepared to move off. However, a red car turn left from the cross behind. I see it, but it still at least 50 yards, the speed of it might be around 10 miles/ hour. I have planty of time and room to get out of the bay and drive normally. However, the examiner use the brake as soon as he see the red car turn left from the behind cross at least 50 yards away. I do not very understand his behaviou. I am so angry at that moment. I just talked to him that it still very far and I can do this. However, he did not say anything expect “NO”. Accroding to the 7.02 If a candidate is in difficulties and clearly suffering from nervousness, the examiner should offer a few words of reassurance to help them settle down. Obviously, he did not do this. Meanwhile, he did not take a form to make and records of my driving process. I only got one serious during moving off and I did not get any other records recommand. I am not sure it is normal for a examiner to record nothing during a test. Meanwhile, I want to know about how to appeal it if necessary. It is because my coach told me I can not use my phone to record the process when having a test. There are only the examiner and myself on the car at that moment. I even do not have and evidence to prove what I say. What should I do? Actually, I am a foreign and I am from China. Will it be negative for met to appeal? Meanwhile, what if I meet the examiner again if I appealed him? I am a student and I know nothing about the appeal process. I am waiting for your reply.
    Yours sincerely,

    1. Reply

      Bethany Hall

      Hi Yiteng,
      I’m so sorry that your driving test didn’t go according to plan. It can be so disappointing, especially when you feel like the examiner was working against you.

      Regarding your examiner not recording anything, it could be that he didn’t see you make any other faults until the braking incident. In which case, he wouldn’t have needed to record anything. Or, he could have simply been waiting until the end of the test to complete his feedback.

      If you feel as though your examiner did not follow the regulations during your test, you can go ahead and appeal it. Your test result will not change, but you could get a retest if your appeal is successful. To do this, you would need to contact your local magistrate’s court within 6 months. The only issue you might have here is the length of time it could potentially take.

      If you’re worried about ending up on a test with the same examiner again, I’d recommend reading our article on ‘can you refuse a driving test examiner?’ It offers advice and tips on what to do if you are struggling with an examiner.

      Hope this helps!


  6. Reply

    Mr Robert A Gorton

    Hi Bethany,

    I failed my driving test today apparently because a mobility scooter was driving towards me down the road I gave him nearly 2 meters distance and was doing 15,20mph but the examiner screamed at me slow down I was in total control of the situation and aware as I was the correct distance away from him, is that right I only had 4 minors aswel

    1. Reply

      Bethany Hall

      Hi Robert,

      I’m so sorry to hear that! Failing the driving test can be so disappointing! Unfortunately, it’s entirely down to the discretion of the examiner. If they felt like you weren’t in control of the situation, or reacted in a manner that wasn’t in line with safe driving practices, they’re within their rights to give you a major fault/fail you.

      As it’s a difference of opinion over the result, I don’t imagine you’d get very far with appealing your driving test result. All I’d recommend is taking a couple more lessons and giving the test another try.

      Hope this helps!


  7. Reply


    I failed my test within 5 minutes in the test centre car park, the first thing I was asked to do was to “reverse park into any of the parking spaces behind me including the disabled one” as the disabled space was to the curb I picked that one, the space had about 10 inches of hatch marks between the space and the curb (apparently to give a disabled person space to get their wheel chair out) I got an immediate fail for parking on the hatch marks, which I thought was unfair because I’m not disabled and would never park in a disabled space normally, no matter how many driving lessons I haver no instructor is ever going to tell me “if you park in a disabled parking space don’t do this” I’d be told, you’re not disabled don’t park in a disabled space!, I feel like I was tricked do I have any chance if I appeal?

    1. Reply

      Andy Boardman

      Hi Mark,

      When asked to carry out a bay parking manoeuvre, you have to park within the lines. Parking on any hatched markings would be outside of the lines, so this would amount to a fail. Unfortunately, I can’t see any chance that you’d be successful appealing this decision.

      Hope this helps.


  8. Reply


    My son in law has just failed his fourth driving test but the reason he failed has left my upset and perplexed. I haven’t spoken to him yet but I was wondering if he should lodge an appeal. The thing is he had finished the test and was with the examiner at the test centre in a parking bay when he felt that it was not parked evenly between the the allotted lines and decided to straighten the car up. After doing so the examiner said “why did you do that, I was just about to congratulate you on passing?”
    How can this be right, the test was finished, if my son in law was not happy with the parking why should this affect the already finished test result.test
    I’d appreciate other opinions on this.

    1. Reply

      Sam Plant

      Hi Neil,

      That sounds really frustrating for your son-in-law and a strange reason for the examiner to fail him! I hope he’s not taking it too badly, because chances are he’ll pass the next test with flying colours.

      If you feel like the examiner acted unlawfully, then you can certainly log an appeal. However, the decision won’t be overturned if you were to win the appeal. Instead, your son-in-law would get a new test free of charge. Please also note that an unsuccessful appeal can result in you being asked to pay legal costs — so that’s something to also consider.



  9. Reply


    My fiancé took her 3rd test today passed the required amount of points to pass but they failed her because at an intersection with no stop signs the instructor said she didn’t take her foot off the gas or slow down but my fiancé let off the gas looked in all directions the proceeded to go threw the intersection. there wasn’t any traffic but failed her for her not letting off the gas and didn’t slow down when she was already going at 20mph before the intersection then slowed down upon the intersection. so she failed because the instructor said she did this twice and its an automatic frailer. but the first test she didn’t get penalized for that so is there anything she can do to contest her test?

    1. Reply

      Sam Plant

      Hi Mike,

      I’m sorry to hear your fiancée’s test didn’t go as hoped — it certainly sounds like an unfortunate way to fail.

      To be honest, I don’t think it’d worth your time and effort to appeal the test. Chances are the DVSA will take the side of the examiner, as they’ll say she didn’t stop for long enough at the intersection. The only way of getting a test result over-turned is when an examiner has failed to follow regulations.

      If you did want to appeal the test and were to win, the test result wouldn’t be changed and your fiancée would just get a new test for free. So, unless you have a grievance against the examiner, I personally don’t think it’s ever worth the stress of appealing! Plus, if you were to fail the appeal, then you might be expected to pay the legal costs (which will likely be a lot more than the £62 for a new practical test).

      I’m sorry if this isn’t the answer you were hoping for, but I hope that helps. Please wish your fiancée all the best of luck with her next test from me — I’m sure she’ll pass the next one!



  10. Reply

    Angela Haggerty

    My son was taking his test in his brothers car. The car was clean except for some bits on the carpet. The examiner refused to take him, due to rules concerning Covid. Stating the car was not clean. Surely the carpet would not pose a threat concerning covid as it is an airborne virus. What would he carry on his shoes

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