Got my reminder in the post today that my License will expire the day before my 70th birthday - 23/12/2014, so in line with their suggestion I went online to renew it. I gathered all the requirements, License, Passport, NI Number and started filling in the online form. About half way through it came up with a window saying my License was valid till 21-06-2016 which its obviously not, so thinking I'd made a mistake I went to the beginning an started again and the same thing happened, so I carried on anyway and it all went through and I got the confirmation page at the end.
So there's obviously a fault in their website and I'm just waiting to see if the new License arrives now.
Already done it as I said in my OP and got the confirmation page. They say the new License should be through in 2 weeks so still plenty of time if anything went wrong.
As for driving without a License I remember seeing a TV report a while ago about renewing them. Apparently as many as 40,000 people are driving on expired Licenses. All PhotoCard licenses need to be renewed every 10 years if you are under 70 and every 3 years thereafter. Seems people just ignore the reminders. Your License is also invalid if you don't keep the address updated if you move house.
Don't forget if you had C1/D1 licence ( vehicles 3.5 - 7.5 tonnes; minibus up to 16 seats), to continue with this you need an "HGV style" Doctor's certificate (Mine cost about £100!). If you "self certify" your entitlement is for "normal" cars - B (max 3.5 tonnes)
The DVLA website does have its odd moments. I tried to renew a vehicle tax, and every time I tried their system would not recognise the debit or credit card details, so payment and completion came to an halt.
Telephoned, and an adviser explained (sounding casual)that "it happens sometimes". She took the card details I had previously offered, and transaction went through without bother. Job done.