back to article Paper driving licence death day: DVLA website is still TITSUP

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) site crashed yesterday under the strain of users flocking to receive an online code to replace their paper driving licence counterparts. One user, Dave Compton, told us he was still experiencing problems this morning. He said: "I retrieved the sharing code required for my hire car …

  1. Winkypop Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Staged roll-out anyone?

    "Yesterday was the official launch of the DVLA site, as paper licences became obsolete as of midnight. After a major collapse"

    A new site mixed with a global deadline?

    Really?

    Wow.

  2. Mad Mike

    Gross stupidity and idiocy

    You really couldn't make it. Been reading and listening (radio etc.) about how this new 'service' will work and once again, it appears to be for the benefit of the government pseudo-department (DVLA) rather than their customers. The process itself appears to have been designed by a half-wit. The idea that the code (for the rental company) only lasts for 72hours and then you have to logon and apply for another is so patently stupid, it defies belief. Even an idiot wouldn't have implemented this.

    On top of the stupid process, we now know that DVLA can't even keep the website up!! They cite heavy load......well, there's a surprise. First day heavy load.....who would have thought. Is it really necessary for all managers at these places to be half-wits? All of this was entirely predictable and could easily have been catered for.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Gross stupidity and idiocy

      Do these idiots not realize that people who go on multi-stop business trips may be hiring several cars in succession over the space of a week or two? Are they supposed to get a new code every few days?

      1. Paul Kinsler

        Re: Are they supposed to get a new code every few days?

        Do you want a non-expiring code that can be kept by (or leaked from) the car hire company or its employees, and be (mis)used to check up on your driver record at some undetermined later date?

        I take your point - but being able to pre-generate codes with fixed & limited future validity dates would be better. You could create a stack for sequential hires, if needed, but they wouldn't persist longer than necessary.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Are they supposed to get a new code every few days?

          "I take your point - but being able to pre-generate codes with fixed & limited future validity dates would be better. You could create a stack for sequential hires, if needed, but they wouldn't persist longer than necessary."

          Because all over the globe you can get a good Internet connection for little to no cost.

          The DVLA is, once again, being cretinous.

          1. TheProf

            Re: Are they supposed to get a new code every few days?

            What about linking it to something like Google Authenticator?

        2. Mad Mike

          Re: Are they supposed to get a new code every few days?

          "Do you want a non-expiring code that can be kept by (or leaked from) the car hire company or its employees, and be (mis)used to check up on your driver record at some undetermined later date?"

          Do, what I want is some sanity. What information does the hire car company want? Basically, endorsements. So, why do we even need codes? Many endorsements are a matter of public record anyway, as looking in any local paper will tell you.......court reports etc. Speeding fines etc. might be fixed penalty.

          The only information the hire car company needs to obtain is your endorsements (not DOB or anything like that), so why not simply let them look this information up from driver numbers? OK, anybody else who obtains my driver number might be able to look up my couple of speeding offences or whatever, but so what? If they're really that interested, I'm sure the DVLA call centre would happily discuss my entire driving record with a little social engineering...........

          1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

            Re: Are they supposed to get a new code every few days?

            What information does the hire car company want? Basically, endorsements.

            They should be able to query it on-hire without the customer being involved at all. The whole idea of getting code/using code is idiotic (at best).

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Endorsements - They should be able to query it on-hire w/o customer involvement

              Didn't they do this already? I don't hire very often, but (IME) if you didn't take in the paper part of your license they phoned up, found out, and charged you £15 or whatever for the `service'. At least this web version should cut out the phone call and (one would hope) the charge.

          2. JamesPond

            Re: Are they supposed to get a new code every few days?

            I had a quick look at mine last night, 0 points 3 expired, but did include the court (Manchester). Some might argue that they would not want anyone, perhaps their spouse, to know they were in a certain place where they got caught speeding!

          3. PpP

            Re: Are they supposed to get a new code every few days?

            Your DOB and gender are part of your driver number if you know how to look at it.

          4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Are they supposed to get a new code every few days?

            "The only information the hire car company needs to obtain is your endorsements"

            Why do they even need that? All they really need is proof that you have a valid driving licence.

            Endorsements should only really come into it if you are taking their insurance cover and be separate issue from the hire itself.

        3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Are they supposed to get a new code every few days?

          Do you want a non-expiring code that can be kept by (or leaked from) the car hire company...

          No, I'd go for the low-tech approach. What about a date-stamped bit of paper kept with the licence which shows the details, and if necessary the online system just keeps a note of the date for the most recent revision? Sounds familiar for some reason, though.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Are they supposed to get a new code every few days?

            You could have done many things since the last time you sent your paper copy in.

    2. James O'Shea

      Re: Gross stupidity and idiocy

      @ Mad Mike...

      Please stop insulting half-wits by comparing them to these, these, these... words fail me.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Gross stupidity and idiocy

        Please stop insulting half-wits by comparing them to these, these, these... words fail me.

        Quarter-wits.

        1. Benchops

          > Quarterwits

          femtowits

    3. Anonymous Blowhard

      Re: Gross stupidity and idiocy

      "All of this was entirely predictable and could easily have been catered for."

      Hindsight is always 20:20

      I just tried myself, and it seems to work fine; I suspect the heavy load on the first day was partly due to people logging on "just to give it a try", so a freak-load event rather than a peak-load.

      The limited life code is entirely sensible, and I suspect that most hire-car companies will address this by not bothering to check the on-line license data; they'll most likely address the risk of disqualified drivers hiring cars through additional insurance (they make more money on insurance anyway).

      1. Mad Mike

        Re: Gross stupidity and idiocy

        @Anonymous Blowhard.

        Hindsight is always 20:20. True. But, you hardly needed hindsight to see this one coming. Yes, the heavy load earlier on was probably just people trying it etc., but that was entirely predictable and therefore more resources should have been made available for this entirely predictable spike. It's called basic project management and common sense. Something that is entirely missing from anything connected to the government and many other IT shops.

        The limited life code is entirely stupid. People need to be able to hire cars whenever and wherever they like. Assuming universal internet access is silly, as this simply isn't true. People do need to hire cars in the back of beyond as well as at their villa in Tuscany (probably the only place senior people at the DVLA ever hire cars). The information needed by the hire car company isn't onerous and isn't really that private either. As I said before, a lot of it is available in court records and newspapers and is therefore already public knowledge. So, the whole 'security' basis for this is somewhat misleading anyway.

    4. Halfmad

      Re: Gross stupidity and idiocy

      It'll be interesting to see if these 3 day expiring codes are re-used later.

  3. Darren Forster

    Another mess up with the DVLA paperless scheme....

    Ok so here is another mess up with the DVLA's planned paperless scheme. It's an absolute joke all these paperless decisions.

    I hope the DVLA know of the various problems they are causing, this isn't the first time they have messed up like this, when the tax disc was abolished the site was down for a few days so people couldn't buy their road tax, and now this.

    Also I hope the DVLA also realise how easy it is for someone to evade paying road tax now with no tax disc, and it also means the person can easily speed, and steal from petrol stations because the removal of the road tax disc also means the removal of any visible proof to check that the car has the right registration plate on it, other than checking the VIN number.

    With no road tax disc there is nothing to stop a family with two identical cars (same make, model, engine, year and colour) from taxing one, taking the log book down for that one and having a new set of plates made up for it and putting it on the other vehicle. When it goes past any ANPR camera the camera would show that the vehicle is taxed, insured, MOT'd, etc, any speeding points would be given to the other vehicle, petrol theft would also be given to the other vehicle, and without stopping the car and checking the VIN the police would have absolutely no proof that the car they see is a different car to the other one.

    The other thing is there is also nothing to stop someone walking down a street and finding an identical car to theirs that is taxed and insured and going online and getting a fake set of plates made, many places online that make vehicle plates do not ask to see any log book or anything, and again they could then use that vehicle in any way such as speeding, stealing petrol, etc and the police would need to check the VIN of the vehicle to actually find out if it was driving with fake plates, otherwise the owner of the other vehicle would get all the charges.

    However with the old tax disc there was at least some proof that the vehicle had been taxed and the police could check that the tax disc reg plate matches the reg plate on the front of the vehicle, ok I suppose there was ways to fraud that too, but it was a lot more harder.

    1. Test Man

      Re: Another mess up with the DVLA paperless scheme....

      "However with the old tax disc there was at least some proof that the vehicle had been taxed and the police could check that the tax disc reg plate matches the reg plate on the front of the vehicle, ok I suppose there was ways to fraud that too, but it was a lot more harder."

      The police almost never bothered with looking at the tax disc, and hadn't for over a decade.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Another mess up with the DVLA paperless scheme....

        "The police almost never bothered with looking at the tax disc, and hadn't for over a decade."

        On both my last two manually produced tax discs the writing had faded to illegibility long before they expired.

        The sensible Continental system of a new annual number plate seems to have been beyond us, but then we are the only country silly enough to obsess over personalised number plates. (One sociologist described them as "middle class tattoos", obviously before the middle class started dumbing down and getting actual ones)

        1. Allan George Dyer

          Re: Another mess up with the DVLA paperless scheme....

          "only country silly enough to obsess over personalised number plates"

          Hong Kong is also keen on them. The plate "1" is reserved for the Commissioner of Police, and "1 L0VE U" was sold at auction for HK$1.4m.

          1. Picky
            Happy

            Re: Another mess up with the DVLA paperless scheme....

            Vanity plates are also available in all US states I had BEBEEP on a Renault 5 in New Hampshire

        2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Another mess up with the DVLA paperless scheme....

          The sensible Continental system of a new annual number plate seems to have been beyond us,

          Which continent would that be? Are you suggesting that other countries issue a new number plate each year? I doubt that many do that.

          but then we are the only country silly enough to obsess over personalised number plates.

          The US has had them for years, but they're banned in most (all?) EU states. The UK does allow people to sell registrations, so that JUL 1 E and SUS 1 E go for silly money, but those aren't personalized per-se. There are some amusing ones, the Hastings Hotels group in N. Ireland is (was?) run by Bill and Joy Hastings, and they could be seen rolling around Belfast in cars with BIL 1066 and JOI 1066 plates.

          UK law still prohibits the use of a license plate that could make a car seem younger than it is (i.e. a 1980 plate on a 1960 car), which can limit the fun & games a bit.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: "nothing to stop a family with two identical cars..."

      Excuse me if I'm slightly confused, but if the same family has the two identical cars, then what's the use of going hog-wild with one of them and getting the other one indicted for it ? It's still them that ends up with the bill (or the Police at their door).

      Your second example is better - except that speeding carries a lesser fine than sporting a license number you have no right to. When you get caught for that you're not getting fined, you're going to jail. Not worth it unless you're already a hardened criminal.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "nothing to stop a family with two identical cars..."

        ..and as for stealing petrol by driving away from a petrol station without paying.... some police forces say they're no longer going to take action about that as they haven't got the budget and it can be resolved via the civil courts!

        Strange that they don't take the same stance for copyright problems.... I wonder why....

    3. Graham Marsden
      Boffin

      There is no such thing as "Road Tax"!

      The Road Fund Licence (ie a tax to pay for the building and upkeep of Britain's Roads) was abolished in 1936!

      You pay Vehicle Excise Duty which is a tax on the ownership of a car or other such vehicle which you pay whether it's used or not unless declared SORN.

      Yet still people claim that they "pay to use the roads" with the implicit or explicit assumption that this gives them more rights than those who don't...

      1. IsJustabloke

        Re: There is no such thing as "Road Tax"!

        yawn.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: There is no such thing as "Road Tax"!

          @IsJustabloke - yawn

          If people tried getting the terminology right people wouldn't have to correct them.

          It's not hard - use the shorter word "car" where you used to use the word "road".

      2. nijam Silver badge

        Re: There is no such thing as "Road Tax"!

        > The Road Fund Licence ... was abolished in 1936!

        Well, no it wasn't, only the name (more specifically, the goverment's name for it) changed; everything else stayed exactly the same - the price, the little disc you got to stick the windscreen, the way you bought it, ...

        So it wasn't actually changed in any meaningful way. Obviously. And that's why people keep calling it by the original name.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Police not chasing drivers who don't pay for petrol.

          Not sure if the 4 down-votes are because people think it's not true. Anyway, here's the link to one story about it: http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/car-news/consumer-news/91732/fuel-theft-in-cornwall-no-longer-our-concern-say-police

        2. Graham Marsden
          Boffin

          Re: There is no such thing as "Road Tax"!

          >> The Road Fund Licence ... was abolished in 1936!

          > Well, no it wasn't,

          The point is that, up until 1936 it was "hypothecated" (ie ring-fenced) so it could *only* be used for road building and maintenance.

          After then, it simply went into the government's coffers along with all the other tax revenue and they could spend that money on anything they wanted.

          So, yes, it was changed in a meaningful way because for the last 80 years nobody has "paid to use the roads", yet there's still a dangerous sense of entitlement from many drivers who believe that it gives them the right to behave like arseholes towards anyone who doesn't pay vehicle tax.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not fit for purpose

    I was getting 405 Not Allowed and 500 Internal Server Errors and sometimes the data entry page would just reappear again. Eventually, after half an hour of trying, it finally told me it could not verify my details and gave me a phone number to call. When I did I was told that "not all data has been transferred to the system yet".

    I do not know if that is true or simply a bullshit excuse.

    The only positive is that I can now recall my driver licence and NI numbers from memory having typed those in so many times.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not fit for purpose

      I must admit I was worried when it was recently revealed that they have tied the driver number to your NI number (and more worried that you needed to know your NI number to this to get this information).

      I'm trying to remember whether that was always the case (I was involved in the DRP program for photo-card licenses 10 years ago), and I don't think it was there then, although there was a data joining effort to allow passport photos to be used for driving licenses.

      It seems that now that the ID card system is has gone the way of the dodo, that HMG have decided to use your NI number as a super-key to tie all their disparate databases together, adding it to databases that had previously never needed it. This was my primary objection to the ID card system in the first place, so I am not happy!

      1. Christoph
        FAIL

        Re: Not fit for purpose

        "HMG have decided to use your NI number as a super-key"

        Here we go again. The US has made a complete mess of things, so let's copy them but without the good bits.

        The American Social Security Number is massively misused as an authenticator, which it was not designed for and is completely unsuitable for. So now HMG are using the NI number as an authenticator.

        Lots and lots of people have access to your NI number!

        1. JamesPond
          WTF?

          Re: Not fit for purpose

          Lots and lots of people have access to your NI number!

          Indeed, whilst filling between contracts last year, I joined an employment agency that needed my driving license number (for a driving job) and my NI number and DOB to pay me. Their computer system now has all the relevant details to run the check without me every knowing! I'm sure as a small agency they are not high on IT security and pay lip service to confidentiality

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Not fit for purpose

        Not sure about HMG's usage of the NI number. To renew my driving licence online recently, I only needed my passport number - but perhaps that is simply a way of linking what they know together and getting me to confirm the links...

        1. Lamont Cranston

          Re: "I only needed my passport number"

          Not everyone has a passport.

        2. AMBxx Silver badge

          Re: Not fit for purpose

          Passport and driving licence seem to be linked - when I renewed my driving licence (10 years at address), the photo from my passport could be used instead of me sending a new photo in.

      3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Not fit for purpose

        It seems that now that the ID card system is has gone the way of the dodo, that HMG have decided to use your NI number as a super-key to tie all their disparate databases together, adding it to databases that had previously never needed it.

        Err... That is not copying USA. USA does not index _EVERYTHING_ by your NI.

        That is copying Bulgaria which indexes everything (even your parking tickets) by your NI and it is even present in your passport and ID and has been doing it since the early 70-es. You cannot buy or sell a house, you cannot even buy or sell a car there without a check vs the indexed database showing that you are all in the clear with regards to your obligations to the state (I was trying to buy a summer house in 2005 and the sale fell through because the cretin selling it had 500+ worth of unpaid parking and speeding tickets).

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't know why you're all complaining...

    My mate Dave said it was all okay, it must be your fault.

    1. Matt 21
      Joke

      Re: I don't know why you're all complaining...

      and his mates will be along shortly with some statistics to prove it. Plus those complaining really need to understand that they have to keep up with the times and that going electronic will save the country a lot of money.

      In the next stage of the role out you'll be able to request the code via Facebook.

  6. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    What do other countries do?

    Frustratingly missing from all the reports on this is how other countries manage this. I don't know if other countries have the same penalties/endorsement system as we do for drivers, but for those which do, and only have a photo licence then how do their citizens hire cars? Anyone know?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What do other countries do?

      > for those which do, and only have a photo licence then how do their citizens hire cars? Anyone know?

      You use your driving licence (+ credit card, obviously). If you get caught driving when you shouldn't, say you ran out of points, then you're deep in the shit. In many cases your licence will be confiscated by the police / judge anyway so you wouldn't have one. In those cases, and if you insist on driving a hire car, I presume you would get a mate to do the hiring for you, same as you would in Britain. Needless to say, it sounds like a remarkably stupid idea, but there'll always be one.

      I really do not understand why some governments try so hard to make things as complicated as imaginable.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: What do other countries do?

        I really do not understand why some governments try so hard to make things as complicated as imaginable.

        'Some'? Excessive complexity is surely one of the defining characteristics of every government?

    2. MarkA

      Re: What do other countries do?

      You get to the airport, hand over your photo driving license as ID along with your CC and you're off to the races. I wish I could say I was stunned that the DVLA have done something so dumb as a three day expiring code. You can just imagine the 20 civil servants in the room coming up with that shite. And as for the tax disk thing? Everyone else puts a sticker either on the registration plates or stuck to the inside of the windscreen.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What do other countries do?

      As a Brit living in the US I can answer that for you. They don't care! I rent cars every other week or so here in the US with my NY drivers license. All they care about is whether you have a license or not - as the most serious driving offenses will lead to you losing your license - which means the police or courts will physically take it from you.

      Although most states do have a record of past offenses, they don't really have a points system where three speeding tickets (or whatever) lead to you losing your license. However, the licensing authority does track that and when the police scan your license after stopping you they will see your terrible record and charge you with a "repeated" offense or just take your license from you.

      I, too, was stunned at the short sighted approach that DVLA have taken here because its completely unworkable in most places in the world. Remember airlines and car rental agencies are still using dot matrix printers, so the likelihood (and risk) of all terminals being connected to the internet to check driving records is vanishingly small. I'm also going to echo the concern with using NI # as a unique identifier - which has been shown to be a complete disaster in the USA, so of course has been copied by the fuckwits responsible for this in the UK.

      1. Fonant

        Re: What do other countries do?

        as the most serious driving offenses will lead to you losing your license

        The lack of this is the root cause of the bad driving problems we have in the UK. Once we have a driving licence, usually in our late teens, we get to keep it until we're 70 years old. You can be caught driving dangerously, or speeding, and still keep your licence. If you're unlucky enough to kill someone with your dangerous driving you might be asked to stop driving for a few months, but that's as bad as it gets.

        Keep the points system, ditch the fines, take people's licences to drive away as soon as they get 12 points (no "ifs" no "buts"), and seriously penalise anyone caught driving without a licence. As seriously as penalising someone using a gun without a gun licence. Driving behaviour would improve overnight.

        For bonus improvements, require all drivers to retake their driving test every five years. That way everyone gets the latest test, and drivers have a strong incentive to try to keep their driving habits up to test-passing standard.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What do other countries do?

          https://www.gov.uk/highway-code-penalties/penalty-table

          Disqualification can also have the court-imposed requirement of an extended driving test before regaining your licence.

          In the US, depending on state having your licence taken is roughly equivalent to a UK disqualification. You can see your state of choice here:

          http://www.dmv.org/suspended-license.php

          Reinstatement is usually granted after all ongoing court proceedings and ordered actions are complete on filling in a form and paying the reinstatement fee.

          If you see the way people drive in the US, you'll see that the only deterrent to some really appalling driving is the police cruiser behind them and even then they probably didn't notice it...

        2. James O'Shea

          Re: What do other countries do?

          "as the most serious driving offenses will lead to you losing your license

          The lack of this is the root cause of the bad driving problems we have in the UK. "

          I really hate to tell you this, but... that won't work. Here in Deepest South Florida, we do, indeed, have to renew our driver's licenses every few years. This has not noticeably reduced the number of crazies roaming the roads. All bad jokes about Quebecois snowbirds aside (It's JUNE! They're back in Quebec! Ha-le-lu-ja! With luck we can seal the border before October!) the roads are full of twits. Last week Friday I had to go to Miami (I only go to Miami when I absolutely have to, not being a native Spanish speaker) and on I-95 south I encountered not one but two major accidents, each involving at least three vehicles. (One was a roll-over and one involved a tractor-trailer. The one with the tractor-trailer blocked all five southbound lanes and required a helicopter to get the injured to hospital.) I got off I-95 and took the Turnpike instead, and, yes, there was another accident there. People around here can't drive, and especially can't drive in the rain. I learned to drive in Trinidad and Jamaica, where they use the British methods of learning to drive, and took the test in Ft. Lauderdale a few years back when I moved to Deepest South Florida. I'll tell you this: no-one who thinks they have learned to drive based on the test in Florida could possibly get a license in either Jamaica or Trinidad. And the boyz in Florida have dumbed down the test since I took it... I used to wonder why American tourists would drive so badly. Now I know why. (The only explanation for why Quebecois drive so badly is that they've killed off the last driving instructors in the province and the Canadian government can't pay anyone enough to replace them...)

          Fury Road ain't in Australia, it's I-95 south of Hallendale Beach Blvd. (Exit 18. The last exit before entering Dade County. Abandon all hope, and learn Spanish, when going south of Hallendale Beach Blvd.)

          Sorry, but your idea won't work.

  7. BearishTendencies

    You've got to love 'Digital'

    YAY! GO DVLA! YAY! GO GDS!

  8. 45RPM

    Planning is all very well, but sometimes you need ahellavalottaluck too. Several years back, I managed a migration so large that, beforehand, my boss told me ‘if you muck this up, you’ll be front-page news. If it all goes well, no one will know about it’. Big motivational speaker that man. I succeeded (so you didn’t hear about it), but skirted close to the shoals of fuck-up on a few occasions that weekend (unforeseen circumstances and whatnot). I therefore have some insight to what these guys are going through - and I have a good deal of sympathy for them. Even if I don’t understand why they needed to do it at all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @45RPM

      10 years ago, when deploying databases for DRP, I so totally screwed up the EMC Symetrix mirroring that took down both the primary and backup EVL (Electronic Vehicle Licensing) servers at the DVLA for about 4 hours!

      Bloody Symetrix mirroring was anything but symmetrical on AIX, and there was a undiscovered bug in the switching scripts, but these things can happen when you don't have totally representative test environments.

      This was at 01:00 in the morning, so there were not too many people affected, fortunately!

      Anon, for obvious reasons.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @45RPM

        Ahhhhhhh "test environments"

        I so wish I had one, yes I feel your pain.

        Anon as well, due to recent events

    2. Mad Mike

      Good planning

      If the work is planned correctly, you should be able to avoid 'big bangs' and therefore mitigate a lot of the risk. Having to do huge changes all in one go, is a sign of a badly planned project.

      1. Roger Greenwood

        Re: Good planning

        They have been migrating data over the last few weeks at least - we tried it last month and some records were there, some not.

        Has anyone mentioned cost yet?

        As an individual it is free to check your own data, but if you want to check someone else's record (e.g. a company checks their van drivers etc) they will be making a charge. I call that a tax on small businesses.

        Needless to say most will be asking their drivers for the proof/code every year instead of a copy of the paper licence.

      2. 45RPM

        Re: Good planning

        @Mad Mike

        It would be wonderful if Big Bangs could be avoided entirely, but with the best will in the world (and even with careful planning) sometimes they are unavoidable. That doesn’t seem to be the case in this particular instance of course - but who knows? I don’t have all the information.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good planning @Mad Mike

        Planning often requires that you actually know the effect of some of the things that are being done. In my case, if I had had somewhere I could have executed exactly the commands I was going to use, I agree that this issue would not have happened.

        Unfortunately, when the cost of the primary environment is such that the people holding the purse strings provide an unrepresentative environment to test in, there will always be risk of things not running as you expect them to. Again, in my case, the plan had been examined by two of my colleagues, one of whom who sat through the test run with me, and also the operational support team, and none of us spotted the potential problem that manifested during the work.

        Also, with regard to breaking down the work to manageable chunks, if each of the chunks result in a service outage, you have to have a lot of clout to go against the service manager (often not technical) who is more likely to accept one moderate outage (and some risk) rather than three shorter outages, especially if they can deflect blame from themselves. From their point of view, it's less changes, less standing in front of the change board, and an easier life.

        Again, in my case, the work was actually supposed to be minimal outage while the cluster was manually failed across to the backup server and back to make sure that both systems had the new filesystem definitions to allow automatic cluster failover. The version of HACMP being used was too early to allow the sync of the volume group definitions without actually activating the secondary copy. It was also complicated by the fact that EMC Symmetrix Remote Data Facility does not actually present the same LUN definitions to the backup server, limiting the use of C-SPOC. This was 10 years ago, and things will have changed.

  9. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    I just love government projects

    Especially UK ones.

    Because however bad I mess things up, I always have this kind of thing to reassure me that I'm not that bad.

    First day launch on the day that people absolutely needed it ? Very bad idea, and this is why. New launches are never cut-and-dried affairs (ask Blizzard, and they know what they're doing), but timing the launch with mandatory registration is just asking for trouble - which they got in spades.

    There is just one thing I wonder about : is there anybody in there that learns anything from these snafus ? Seems to me that UK gov is staffed with a load of Charlie Browns. They never succeed at anything, and never get better even though they continually set themselves up for another go.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I just love government projects

      I'm not sure the fault is with the "Charlie Browns". The government used to use Civil Servants to do all of the work. They were painted as costly, inflexible and expensive, so a lot got kicked out and contracting companies brought in. Those were then replaced with others and so on and so on. None of it worked and the problems have only got worse. The one constant in all of this is the government, it's almost as if they're causing the constant cycle of cock ups.

    2. 0laf Silver badge

      Re: I just love government projects

      Nope. As said everyone in Government is a contractor these days so when something goes FUBAR they just move on from that contract to the next. Leaving both the contractor and the Gov department to merrily repeat the TITSUP FUBAR incident ad infinitum.

      SNAFU.

      1. Graham Cobb Silver badge

        Re: I just love government projects

        "Leaving both the contractor and the Gov department to merrily repeat the TITSUP FUBAR incident ad infinitum"

        Back when I was a consultant, I had my share of "project management learning experiences". But I a learnt from them. Others learnt from them better than I did and did larger and larger and more and more critical projects, and became good at it!

        Using a contractor doesn't mean you can't get very experienced programme managers, with good and hard-working sub-project managers. But you have to pay for them, of course -- good ones are deservedly expensive!

        The question we should be asking is not "why was this given to contractors" but "why was the low bid chosen, instead of properly assessing the experience of the key staff and the company and paying for repeatable quality".

        1. 0laf Silver badge

          Re: I just love government projects

          Because everything is about saving money now.

          And it's more important to the recruiters that you have the rigtht certs now, they don't really care if you know how to use them or now.

          You can't measure experience very easily so it gets ignored. Much easier to tick the cert boxes.

    3. Old Tom

      Re: I just love government projects

      "First day launch on the day that people absolutely needed it ?"

      No, the system was already up and running when I renewed my licence a couple of months ago. I dipped-in just for a look - admittedly not to get a code - and it was fine.

      The problem is the PR department got all the media to report it at the same time, resulting in the servers taking an atypical big hit for a day or so while lots of people came along for a quick look.

  10. Crisp

    It's not TITSUP

    This is usual performance for the DVLA.

  11. wolfetone Silver badge

    I went on, just now for the first time, and it worked first time.

    However, it's confusing. To get your code it says "Share your License information". Well how do I know that is what it'd be for this code? Plus, getting on to the site, if I didn't put the www. before the URL it wouldn't load. That's poor.

    On the plus side, the document you get is nicely laid out and straight forward.

    1. CM
      FAIL

      On the plus plus side, the PDF is easy to edit! As some rental companies accept this, what's the point?

      They can use the code to verify.. except for the http 500 internal server errors seen often this morning. The page is also clearly marked beta.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        eh?

        So if they verify the code you give them why don't they just check you out themselves?

  12. TeeCee Gold badge
    Facepalm

    Words fail me.

    Not at the DVLA, at the fucking British in general!

    1) All countries in the EU use the same Driving licence format.

    2) Britain is the only country that ever had a ruddy paper bit.

    3) It's never caused any problem to any other European license holder anywhere in the world to hire a car with only the placcy bit. No codes, no online site, no nothing.

    4) The only place on the entire bleedin' planet that I've ever been asked for the paper section when hiring a car with a UK license is, er, the UK. (This was slightly embarrassing as, since I'd never needed it before, I didn't bloody have it with me in the country!).

    Why the fuck do we always have to overcomplicate everything?

    1. teebie

      Re: Words fail me.

      I *think* that European law (the directive that introduced this format of the [card] license maybe?) said that endorsements couldn't be stored on the license, so the UK government said "we'll stick the endorsements on this bit of paper, which isn't part of the license. Also the license isn't valid without the bit of paper. This is fine, there is no contradiciton here. Shut up"

      So rather than just obey the law, they have spent millions uselessly circumventing it. You may be familiar with similar stories.

    2. Jagged.Shard

      Re: Words fail me.

      Previous holidays in Florida, when hiring a car at say, aAlamo, they have always asked for both plastic and paper part of Driving Licence. Off to Florida again on Friday, have retained now-obsolete paper bit of licence. Did (eventually) manage to get on DVLA website and have printed result of search. So will take all three items with to car hire on Friday.

      Agree with all commentard on the p*ss-poor performance of DVLA and their website - if I came up with that result here at work, I would shortly be looking for alternaive employment...........!!!!

    3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Words fail me.

      1) All countries in the EU use the same Driving licence format.

      2) Britain is the only country that ever had a ruddy paper bit.

      There were two standard formats specified in the mid-90's, and only in the past two years has the plastic one become the only type. Places like France still use a paper licence and France has said that it doens't plan to change all licences to plastic in the short term.

      There are other differences. I had a UK licence which I exchanged for a French one, when filling out car insurance details it asked for the date I passed the test, and rejected it because it is < 18 years after my DOB. Impossible in France, not in the UK where you can get a licence at 17. The reverse situation could happen for motorbike licences. It's certainly not correct to assume that the EU is a big happy harmonised family with just the UK being difficult.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Words fail me.

        > Places like France still use a paper licence and France has said that it doens't plan to change all licences to plastic in the short term.

        New licences being issued in France are plastic.

        The old paper ones are of course still valid, same as elsewhere (expiry issues aside where applicable).

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Words fail me.

        > when filling out car insurance details it asked for the date I passed the test, and rejected it because it is < 18 years after my DOB.

        That's a problem with your insurance company policies (or more likely, their misspecced software). Nothing to do with the EU or local laws, etc. I presume you would still have been able to get insurance, after speaking to some actual human (or Frenchman) able to override the shoddy software.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Words fail me.

          That's a problem with your insurance company policies (or more likely, their misspecced software). Nothing to do with the EU or local laws, etc. I presume you would still have been able to get insurance, after speaking to some actual human

          Oh yes, it was entirely down to the software. The person just said "well, we'll have to lie about when you passed your test". My point is that it shows that the EU does not have consistent procedures where only the UK is out of step and being difficult. Its different in every country, but the tw*ts who write the software, for the DVLA and elsewhere, have no clue. Just like American website software which assumes every address must have a State field.

  13. Elmer Phud

    Standard Gubermint website

    "We have saved a fortune by introducing this central point by which everyone can easily access thier details. As a result, further savings have been made by reconfiguring our personnell numbers"

    "Due to unforseen* circumstances this site is currrently unavailable - as we have also binned all those who would have been on phones and screens, tough shit.

    We have now given it all to Capita to run and are drying our hands having just washed them of any possible connection to the shit you are currently in."

    [Coming soon, more systems to alienate and consfuse]

  14. Christoph

    They are trying to reclaim their original title

    Way back when DVLA first started up they made so many cock-ups that they were generally known as the Swansea Joke Factory.

    1. Toltec

      Re: They are trying to reclaim their original title

      That will be DVLC then?

  15. Velv
    Joke

    I don't see the problem

    It was always going to get hammered in the first week no matter how big the infrastructure was made. And it's good to see the government keeping it British by giving everyone something different to complain about otherwise we'd still be bitching about the weather.

  16. Captain Mainwaring

    Eggs in one basket

    As long as the DVLA checking system remains up and running 24/7 and can cope with any level of demand placed upon it, everything will be just fine. At times when it is not able to cope, expect long queues, frantic telephone calls and drivers giving up and going by public transport instead.

    In the end, it just depends how good DVLA's IT infrastructure turns out to be.

    1. John Sager

      Re: Eggs in one basket

      They could have anticipated the early overload. No doubt the site is dimensioned for 'normal' loads. If I had been project manager, I would just hire 2 or 3 times the server load capacity for a month or so - plenty of providers of that service. I suspect though that the security requirements and the cost of the risk assessment put the kibosh on that approach.

      1. Captain Mainwaring

        Re: Eggs in one basket

        Next time I hire a car, I think I will go to the extra trouble if it's possible, to get a printout of my driving licence record the previous day, along with the required reference number for the hirer. At least that way, if they are unable to get online for some reason when I turn up, they at least have a printed record of any points I may or may not have. Perhaps if they are busy or just short of customers at that time, they may accept this print out at face value, without waiting until the website comes back online again before they hand the keys over.

        I know this new system is a bit of a faff and a hassle, especially for people who do not have internet access, but I would imagine this is a sign of things to come as more and more government services come online under the " digital by default " program being driven on by GDS.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Eggs in one basket

      "drivers giving up and going by public transport instead."

      Hmmmm....did you just hit the nail on the head? Combine complicated bureaucracy with the trend for "adjusting" roads with various hazards to slow you down/make roads safer, badly timed traffic lights and various town planner road schemes created by non-drivers and maybe we have the Government "nudge unit" pushing us away from driving at all unless it's essential.

      Has anyone got any spare tinfoil? My hat seems to be leaking.

  17. jason 7

    Once again...

    ...someone didn't think it cool and maybe a 'bit negative' to put a 'CONS' heading up on the initial brainstorming session.

    I have seen it happen!

  18. CraPo

    I wonder how many people were "just looking"...

    I tested the site out back in March when this was being publicised and it worked well (unsurpisingly, given the vastly reduced load). I still had to go back and have another look now though :-)

  19. web_bod
    Headmaster

    I object to the use of the acronym 'TITSUP' - this is business as usual for government websites within 3 months of launch

  20. macjules
    WTF?

    Stop your whining ..

    Nothing wrong with the DVLA site. It works exactly as we planned and the only thing wrong is that the 'public' is now using it. We designed it just to work on two browsers, Internet Explorer 5 and Safari 1 so if you don't have those then tough. We were going to develop a new technology WAP version but the DVLA rejected the £150m price tag for it.

    Your partner in technology,

    Capita

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Stop your whining ..

      I don't know how things have changed, but it used to be IBM doing the development and third line support, and Fujitsu doing the operational support. Capita were not involved at all.

      They had a dreadful (b)acronym Partners Achieving Change Together (PACT). Uggghhh.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who EVER looked at paper licences?

    I have hired cars in the UK, Europe and USA endless times over the last decade, and despite diligently carrying my crumpled paper licence, can't ever remember anyone showing the faintest interest in it (or indeed in any info on a plastic licence beyond the number on it for their records) . Last time I hired, in the USA last week, my wife was good to drive and they didn't even want to glance at her licence. I guess I'm fairly happy that a car hire place that doesn't have an Internet connection won't care about 3 speeding points. But.......

    What total idiot thought a one time 72 hour password made any sense whatsoever? Why 72 hours? Why a one time code? Surely the simplest thing would be a website that you put a driver number into and it comes back with a nice binary 'yes this is valid and the driver isn't banned' or ''no this is fake'. OK you need a separate system for allowing you to browse your own licence details, but if your employer needs to know, you would just stroll over to transport, and instead of showing a bored transport manager your creased greenery, you would just bring it up on the screen in their presence. Simples.

    1. Toromoloscu

      Re: Who EVER looked at paper licences?

      I tried this way back when it was first mentioned and worked perfectly, Yesterday R4 had a moan about and several news websites droned on it was broken. I tried last night 23;30 and it was almost instant. The car hite info I received today said that I would need the code. No problems, any rush will be over by now, so at 9:23 this morning I entered my info and got the nice PDF. Took seconds to get the data.

      I'm convinced the only reason it's failing is because every bastard is out there wondering if it works rather than just the people needing it. How much over provision should the DVLA provide just so Joe Git can check the details he already knows?

      As for paper. Every time I have hired a car in the USA and Switzerland I have had to provide the paper counterpart, but never in the EU.

      Never had a problem taxing a car online, no problem with this site either. OK a statistically valid sample of one but works for me.

  22. Foxhill
    FAIL

    Wonder what the staff's convictions are? Let's go and check

    I'm still waiting on how they're going to stop HR departments from looking at employee's records. HR have copies of most people's driving licences if you're likely to drive for work, they already know your NINO.

    Having a statement on the website saying 'You should only use this service to view or share your own driving licence.' doesn't prevent anything.

  23. Stephen 24

    Outsourced?

    Do the DVLA do their own FUBARs these days or has it been outsourced? Who to?

  24. Stevie

    Bah!

    How was this not entirely predictable?

  25. Dr_N

    The Real Question is...

    Why do rental car companies supposedly need to interrogate British driving licence holders' driving records and not the licence details of drivers from other countries?

    In France your insurance company and car rental firms have no right to know how many points you have.

    This seems to be the result of UK insurance company lobbying ...

    1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: The Real Question is...

      In theory I want the insurance company to know who the high risk drivers are so that they can charge them more and keep the costs down for low risk drivers.

      1. Dr_N

        Re: The Real Question is...

        I can categorically state from experience that UK licence holders do not get cheaper car hire deals abroad than people with licences from other countries. You are kidding yourself.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Real Question is...

          I can categorically state from experience that UK licence holders do not get cheaper car hire deals abroad than people with licences from other countries.

          That is not the case.

          Try one of the consolidators like Auto Europe or Holiday Autos, give them different countries of residence/licence when requesting a quote and the rental fees change. The UK is generally one of the lower ones, people with Greek and Italian addresses get charged more.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The Real Question is...

            I have driving licences from 2 countries. No change in price.

  26. a_yank_lurker

    Deja vu all over again

    Hey Brits, did you hire the same clowns that did Obamacare's website? This sounds like their level of competence.

  27. chaosmagnet

    Good luck renting a car in the USA without a physical driver's license!

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing to see here... all working as intended

    I obtained my code just now without any difficulty. But why does it have to expire after 72 hours? That severely restricts usability while travelling outside the UK with limited internet or phone access. Why can't I have the choice to allow the code to remain valid until I choose to revoke it, for example by signing in again and cancelling the old code or generating a new one? D'oh! it could have been made so simple!

    Anon, as I have just left feedback to this effect on the DVLA website, and we all know "they" read the Reg...

  29. This post has been deleted by its author

  30. codemonkey

    So....

    The DVLA has my NI Number...I was not aware of that...interesting.... https://www.viewdrivingrecord.service.gov.uk/driving-record/licence-number

  31. tarak123

    applying for my Uk driving licence 73 years old next birthday

    Hi, I renewed my license at 70. Can anyone tell me, now Ive held my photo card license for three years IE coming up to 73. Will i need go through the same procedure of counter signature on back of photo, and must counter signature person, fill in a section on form when i re-apply at 73.I have a up to date Passport. Please guide me on this Procedure.?

    Because Ive been told, as long as i give my passport Number on Form, that i don't need to change license Photo, so no need for counter signatures or form filling by a counter signature person.

    Thanking you in anticipation Rob

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