Cases of cheating to pass the driving theory test in the UK have tripled in the past five years, Auto Express magazine has revealed.
Over 1,000 people have been caught cheating so far this year, using methods ranging from concealed Bluetooth communication with accomplices outside the room, to employing lookalikes who are expert test-takers – and risking a prison sentence in the process.
Auto Express discovered that the number of people investigated by the Driver and Vehicle Standards agency for cheating in their theory test shot up from 454 cases to 1,522 between 2013/14 and 2018/19.
As the DVSA continues to clamp down on cheating, the number of cases investigated is expected to reach a record 2,421 for 2019/20.
Auto Express uncovered the rise in cheating via a Freedom Of Information request, with the number of those caught cheating skyrocketing after changes to the way driving theory test cheating is monitored were introduced. The trend began when the DVSA took investigations in-house instead of relying on independent investigators and the Crown Prosecution Service to prosecute offenders.
To pass the driving theory test candidates must answer at least 43 out of 50 multiple choice questions correctly. A hazard-perception section of the test also involves correctly spotting at least 44 potential dangers in video clips featuring 75 possible risks.
The successful crackdown on cheats typically relies on CCTV surveillance of test candidates by trained observers who are able to spot suspicious behaviour.
Auto Express consumer editor, Hugo Griffiths, said: “One of the most common ways of cheating is by using a hidden Bluetooth microphone and earpiece to feed questions to an accomplice outside – and there are cases of offenders even modifying their equipment to make it harder to spot.
“It’s also common for cases to involve candidates switching with an impersonator who knows the test inside out. This is typically a friend, although professional test-takers can also be paid to sit the exam.”
While cheating your way to a driving license poses obvious safety risks on the road, the DVSA’s zero tolerance approach also spells heavy penalties for offenders who are caught red-handed – or even ‘Bluetooth-eared’.
Griffiths added: “In one case we looked at, a 50-year-old London man smuggled in a Bluetooth headset, on which he had disabled the telltale blue light. He was spotted and landed himself with a suspended prison sentence, a curfew order and a £1,115 fine.”