TEENAGER Rheece Lowden shows off his new driving licence – despite never passing his test.
The 19-year-old, of Washington Village, was sent the full licence in the post after a blunder by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).
The former Usworth Sixth Form student was due to take his examination last month, but cancelled it online.
But he still received the official paper and plastic authorisation just days later.
“I couldn’t believe it when it arrived,” he said. “I don’t know how it could have happened. Not only did I cancel it, I’ve never been anywhere near a test centre since.”
Rheece, who is unemployed, said he hoped passing his test would improve his job prospects, and spent hundreds of pounds on lessons.
He added: “I’ve waited so long to sit my test. I’ve spent the best part of £1,000 on lessons. I’ve been learning, on and off, for the past two years or so.
“I’ve failed my test twice, but I was really confident that this time round I was going to pass.
“Although the bad weather has caused me a few problems and the snow has held me up a bit, it was going well until all this blew up.”
Now the learner driver is demanding that the DVLA take responsibility for the mistake.
“I’ve never been given an apology,” he said. “When I went to try to re-book the test, I was told I couldn’t because I was already a registered driver with a full licence.
“Not only have I lost the £62 that it cost to book the test, I’m also going to be charged £20 for a new provisional licence because the last one was automatically made invalid when they had me down as a qualified driver.
“I don’t know where to go from here.
“The DVLA have asked me to send the licence back, but I’m refusing to until they take some responsibility for what they’ve done.
“They are going to charge me for the mistakes they have made.”
The mistake was put down to the Driving Standards Agency.
A spokesman said: “The integrity of the driving test is paramount, and our procedures are designed to ensure that full driving licences are only issued to drivers who have taken and passed the appropriate tests.
“This was an isolated incident and we are grateful to the customer who drew it to our attention.
“We took immediate action to avoid any repeat and apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.”