A driver’s licence saga

Driving licence. Image via the Greek Ministry of Transport

AN received a letter from a reader about problems with the renewal of a drivers licence. Name and email supplied.

‘Last autumn, the government introduced a law which stipulated that all drivers aged 74 or over would henceforth be required to take a ‘basic’ driving test, before being allowed to renew their licences. 

Early this year, the testers at the licencing centres around Greece declared a strike, which continued for about 2 months before being called off.  That obviously caused a backlog.

The licences held by my wife and me were due to expire in March 2019 and as we were going to be spending time travelling in a hire car in the UK in June, thought it prudent to submit the paperwork for renewal in January.  We had the medical examination, the eye test and obtained the other papers, submitting that through KEP on 15th January. 

KEP supplied us with a paper which said that we could drive until 9th April 2019.  When this expired, we went to the licensing centre in Chania and were given another taking us through to 9th May. 

Still not having been notified of the date/time of the driving test, I went to the licensing centre again this morning to seek a further extension into June.  By now, all hopes of having the licence in time to hire a car in the UK had disappeared, but we still needed to renew the permission to drive in Greece.  

EXCEPT:  I was told by the staff there that ‘the Ministry of Transport ‘ has decreed that no more extensions would be permitted. 

So what do I do?  Can I drive tomorrow?’ 

‘No’ was the answer.  ‘You will have to wait until we call you for your test’

‘And when will that be?’

‘I do not know!  The whole thing is crazy around here.’

So here I am, with a car I can’t drive until someone in Chania decides it is my turn to take the test.  That could be 2 days, 2 weeks, 2 months or even longer!

What is going on?  Who in ‘the Ministry’ has suddenly taken hundreds of cars off the road, at a stroke, by denying the owners the legal right to drive?  For what reason?  It is not the drivers’ fault that there is a back-log; nothing has changed for the driver – he/she is still capable of driving! 

I checked with my insurance agent and he confirmed that the insurance industry has been asking the Ministry of Transport what it is all about, but so far has had no response. 

Frankly, this is utterly ridiculous.  I live in a small village.  I am damned if I am going to pay for a taxi every time I need to go to the nearest shopping centre (6km away) or into Chania (23 km away).  There are two buses a day – one at 0730 and one about 1430 but they are only school buses!!  Why, at the age of 79, should I have to walk 2km each way to catch a bus into Kalyves or Chania?  And why should I have to rely on friends in the area who might be going to the shops or the city? 

And how do I get my own car to the test centre when the time comes to take the test if I’m not allowed to drive it? Also if I have no licence, my insurance is invalid; what happens if I cause an accident on the way to the test centre?  Is driving it there worth the risk?  Do I have to get another driver who has a licence to drive it there with me as a passenger?  ‘

Will someone, somewhere, please put a rocket up the rear end of this plan and get it scorched, IMMEDIATELY?  The result of doing nothing is that many people who are perfectly able to drive,  but prevented from doing so by this stupid ruling, will take their cars on to the road; which means that if they cause an accident, they will be uninsured (if they had insurance in the first place).  If they are stopped by the police, they will be charged with driving without a licence and have to pay a fine, at the very least.  It’s CRAZY.  GET IT STOPPED.  NOW! ‘

The Ministry of Transport in Athens or the Regional Unit of Chania are welcome to comment and offer suggestions on resolving this issue