Page last updated at 06:50 GMT, Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Warning on bogus driving teachers

By Ross McKee
BBC News

learner driver logo
The public has been warned to avoid illegal driving instructors

Environment minister Sammy Wilson has warned the public to steer clear of illegal driving instructors.

And he said anyone thinking of buying lessons could be exposing themselves to a number of risks.

Mr Wilson said illegal instructors do not have the necessary qualifications to teach, may not have proper insurance, or have undergone rigorous criminal record checks.

The Driving Instructors Association of NI has welcomed Mr Wilson's comments.

Its chairman, Tom Burns, said he was grateful the minister had taken the trouble to issue a warning as it was "an increasing problem".

And he added that the Driver and Vehicle Agency, which regulates the activities of Approved Driving Instructors, was currently prosecuting a number of alleged illegal drivers in Northern Ireland.

Mr Wilson said illegal instructors may not have undergone the rigorous criminal record checks driving instructors must pass before they are able to teach "young people on a one-to-one basis".

"Illegal instructors may appear legitimate," he said. They may advertise in local newspapers, have dual controls fitted and have their vehicles covered with logos.

"Learners could be putting themselves at serious risk if they take lessons from illegal, uninsured or potentially dangerous instructors.

"That is why anyone buying lessons must check out the credentials of those offering lessons."

Mr Wilson added that learner drivers should check the status of their instructor by asking them for their ADI certificate or trainee licence.

"They should also pay careful attention to the expiry date," he said. If none exists, they should not take lessons with this person.

"If there is any doubt about the status or existence of a licence you should call the Approved Driving Instructor section of the DVA who will clarify the position for you.

"You should make these checks even if an instructor has taught others you know or works for a driving school.

"Parents paying for lessons - particularly if they are buying lessons in bulk - should also ask to see the driving instructor's licence before handing over money for lessons. Cheap lessons may indicate illegal instruction."

Further information and a list of ADIs in Northern Ireland can be obtained by checking the DVA website.

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