Section 143, Road Traffic Act 1988

It is an offence to use a motor vehicle on a road or public place, such as a car park, without insurance coverage.  To be charged with this offence it is not necessary that the motor vehicle was being driven.  If it is parked on a road or other public place insurance is required.  Even if a vehicle is kept off the road it still requires to be insured unless a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) has been made to the DVLA. It is also an offence to cause or permit any other person to use a motor vehicle without insurance cover. 

If a person is charged with no insurance it is for that person to prove that an appropriate policy was in place.  This is an exception to the general rule that the defence do not require to prove anything.  

Penalties

It is essential that you have appropriate insurance cover for you and anyone else who may drive your vehicle.  Failure to do so could result in prosecution and subsequent endorsement of your licence with 6 to 8 penalty points or a period of disqualification.  A fine of up to £5000 can also be imposed.  In some circumstances, seizure and destruction of the uninsured vehicle can be ordered.

Common Problems with Insurance Policies 

Most of the cases that we deal with in this area come about because an insurance policy has lapsed or there has been some misunderstanding or error about the cover provided by the policy. Problems frequently arise when you allow another person to borrow your car.  If you lend your car to another person, the law requires you to ensure that a valid policy of insurance is in place which allows them to drive your vehicle.  By the same token, if you borrow someone else’s car it is your responsibly to make sure that you are covered by a valid policy of motor insurance.    Furthermore, it is your responsibility to ensure that you have the right type of cover.  The police are increasingly checking insurance policies to ensure that drivers who use their vehicle for business purposes are covered for that use under their policy.   If you are convicted of driving without sufficient insurance or if you have allowed someone else to drive without insurance the penalties are the same as though you had driven without any insurance yourself.

Defences

Defences that may be available will depend on the circumstances of each case.  For instance, the law provides a statutory defence to employees who are using a company vehicle in the course of their employment, so long as some other conditions are met.  A successful defence can, of course, be established on the basis that valid insurance does exist.  Close scrutiny of the policy's terms and the small print is essential.   In cases where it is alleged that you have caused or permitted someone else to drive without insurance you may secure an acquittal depending on the type of permission you gave to the person who drove your vehicle.

Special Reasons

In other circumstances where it is clear that the offence has been committed the court can refrain from imposing points or disqualification if it believes that there are reasons for doing so.  These are known as Special Reasons.  Special Reasons for non-disqualification or non-endorsement of your licence may arise if:

  • you had a genuine and honest belief that you were insured to drive the vehicle in question; and
  • the genuine and honest belief was based upon reasonable grounds.

Such a position might arise where a friend or family member has told you that you are insured to drive a vehicle, but it turns out you were not.  Other examples that might amount to Special Reasons include circumstances where insurance companies have cancelled a policy of insurance by mistake, or where errors have occurred in the renewal of an existing policy that changes the terms or fails to include previously named drivers on the policy.  Ultimately, however, it is your responsibility to make sure you are sufficiently insured to drive a motor vehicle.

As more and more people obtain their insurance over the internet the chances of making a mistake are increased.  In many cases the first time a driver is aware of a problem is when they are stopped by the police.  If the car is uninsured the vehicle can be seized and impounded by the police until the insurance position is confirmed to their satisfaction.  This can prove to be a very costly exercise.

 

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How we can help

The minumum penalty for driving without insurance is 6 penalty points and a fine. This often means that a driver facing such a charge is at risk of losing his licence. Technical defences and legal arguments in favour of Special Reasons can be very difficult to establish. If you have been charged with driving without insurance or allowing someone to drive your vehicle without insurance it is important to obtain expert advice from a specialist road traffic lawyer. Our experience and expertise in this area will quickly determine the best option for you. As specialist road traffic lawyers we are best placed to provide the right advice. We pride ourselves in offering a service that is friendly, honest and reliable. For free advice that is without pressure or obligation simply contact us:

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