Hundreds of 'L' tests passed by impersonators

Many drivers are not qualified at all. They paid someone to take their test for them
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Latest statistics suggest that hundreds of driving tests are being taken each year by people impersonating learner drivers. The scam, which MPs warn is putting incompetent motorists on the road, is the subject of hundreds of investigations by government agencies.

Thousands of driving licences may have been issued to people who did not take a test themselves, but paid someone to assume their identity and take it for them. There are more than 500 investigations now being conducted into driving test impersonations, the Government has admitted.

At least 290 people have been arrested in the past four years for impersonating learner drivers and more than 700 offences have been detected. Transport investigators have uncovered rackets where one person has taken dozens of tests in return for cash.

A Somali bus driver was convicted of taking theory tests for 200 of his countrymen who he claimed did not have enough English to read the questions.

The transport minister, Dr Stephen Ladyman, has disclosed that since 2004, 70 people have been convicted for driving test impersonations, while 79 others have received cautions.

Chris Grayling, the Conservative transport spokesman, said that the scam would lead to more deaths on Britain's roads.

"This is extremely worrying. We have a huge problem already of rogue drivers on the roads, with millions driving without tax or insurance. Now we are discovering that millions of people are getting on to our roads having faked their tests," he said. "We have 3,500 people being killed on our roads every year."

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