DVLA website struggles with new rules on hiring a car
Motorists trying to access a new system for hiring a car have been experiencing problems with the DVLA website.
A number said the system - which does not apply to Northern Ireland drivers - was not working properly, while some car hire firms had to cope with queues.
The changes, which involve the abolition of the paper counterpart, take effect on Monday 8 June.
But the DVLA said that more than 20,000 drivers had managed to access the site without difficulty.
From now on, motorists hiring a car may have to produce a special temporary code as evidence of their convictions.
The DVLA said it had been working on the new system "for months".
As a result of the abolition of the paper counterpart, all evidence of driving endorsements and convictions will be held online only.
Motorists are being asked to log on to the DVLA website, and obtain a code, which they may be asked for when they go to hire a car, either in the UK or abroad.
However, the code is only valid for three days, raising the possibility that those going on holiday may have to find internet access.
A number of customers complained to the BBC that they had been unable to access parts of the website on Monday.
One car hire firm in Bristol said it had a queue of 20 people waiting, as staff struggled to access their details online.
"The DVLA system has fallen over a dozen times this morning," said Richard Stock from U-drive.
"Another operator nearby had a queue of customers out of the door."
The DVLA told the BBC that there had been "exceptionally high demand" on its website, and it was urgently investigating the issue.
The car hire industry has accused the DVLA of bringing in the system too quickly.
"The project's being rushed through. It's not brilliant," said Gerry Keaney, the chief executive of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA).
Guide for motorists
The RAC has previously warned that many people were unaware of the new rules.
A more recent survey by the website money.co.uk suggested that 73% of drivers didn't know they had to produce a code when hiring a car.
And the AA has advised motorists to take their paper counterpart with them, even though it is no longer valid.
But the DVLA denied that using the system is complicated.
"It's very easy to view and share your driving record. Just go to gov.uk and search for 'view driving licence'," said Oliver Morley, the DVLA's chief executive.
He said that motorists could also save their driving records as a PDF file, which they could store on a mobile device.
The DVLA has produced a step-by-step guide to help motorists through the process.
For those who forget to take a code, a phone number is also available, but only between the hours of 8am and 7pm on weekdays, and 8am and 2pm on Saturdays.
In many cases, motorists hiring a car are not asked for evidence of convictions. Nevertheless drivers are being advised to contact their hire company before they travel, to see which documents they need to bring with them.
Smaller hire companies, especially based abroad, may be unaware of the changes.
As many as eight million old-style paper licences - which carry endorsements on them - will remain valid.
However endorsements will no longer be added to them by the courts.
The government has defended the new system, saying it will save millions of pounds, and reduce red tape.
Last year, the DVLA had to replace 445,000 paper counterparts. Motorists who lost them were charged £20 for replacements.
However, the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association said it would be much better if there were an online IT system which hire companies could use to check convictions themselves.
It, too, has produced advice for motorists.
The new arrangements are valid in Britain only. Northern Ireland has a separate licence scheme.