By Michael Allen
New driving licences, which will be harder to copy illegally, will be introduced in the UK on 19 January 2013 along with a host of new licence regulation.
In order to make the new licences harder to forge they will be produced in a different format, which includes having the holder's image burnt onto several layers of the card by laser.
To make them tougher and lighter the new licences will be made from polycarbonate, instead of plastic, and because of the new imaging process the driver's picture will be black and white.
According to www.gov.uk the new driving licence rules affect what motorists can legally tow. A Category B (car and small vehicle) licence will allow motorists to tow:
.small trailers weighing no more than 750kg.
.trailers weighing more than 750kg, where the combined weight of the towing vehicle and the trailer isn't more than 3,500kg. Current Category B licences - issued on or after January 1st 1997 - allow drivers to have:
.a vehicle up to 3.5 tonnes or 3,500 kilograms (kg) Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM (with a combined weight of up to 4,250kg in total).
.a trailer over 750kg MAM as long as it is no more than the unladen or 'kerb' weight of the towing vehicle (with a combined weight of up to 3,500kg in total).
The new rules will also change how often lorry and bus drivers have to renew their licence.
According to www.gov.uk: "If you pass your driving test in categories C, CE, C1, C1E, D, DE, D1 or D1E, after 19 January 2013 you'll get a licence valid for 5 years.
"Every five years up to age 45, you'll need to sign a declaration to show you still meet the medical standards.
"After age 45, you'll need to provide a medical examination report every five years to renew your driving entitlement."
For those under 45 with older licences the following rules will apply: "If you passed a driving test in one of the categories below you'll come under the new rules when you renew your driving licence. The categories affected are C, CE, C1, C1E, D, DE, D1 or D1E.
"When you renew your licence, you'll receive a licence valid for five years. Every time you renew you'll need to confirm you still meet the medical standards.
"If you apply to replace your licence because it is lost or stolen, or your personal details have changed, your new licence will run until the end of your original period.
"However, if you update your photo at the same time you'll come under the new 5-year rule."
It continues: "drivers over 45 will continue to renew their entitlement as they do now. When you renew your licence at the end of a 5-year period, you'll need to provide a medical examination report."
Motorcycle and moped riders will also be affected by the rule changes, with different licence categories defining the vehicles they can ride.