Is your car overdue for its MOT test?
Many members may be unaware of the current size of the penalty for driving a car without a current MOT certificate. With classic cars often insurance, road tax disc and MOT expiry dates can get out of sync so the renewal dates can be at various times in the year - so losing track of the MOT expiry date is very easy to do. In the past that might have been brushed aside as a mistake and have been rectified as soon as you spotted it - but not now! Driving a car without a current MOT (even unwittingly) can result in a costly fine.

Keeping tabs on road tax, insurance and MOT renewal dates
We have a convenient data card (the same size as a debit or credit card) upon which you can record those key dates and keep them in handy place as a regular reminder of when the expiry dates are coming up. 110705 More

Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE)
With insurance, two offences exist with very different penalties. The newer offence of having no insurance when the vehicle is not SORNED gets a warning letter first, then a small fine. Using a vehicle on the road with no insurance gets a large fine and 6 to 8 points or disqualification. More

Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 Sch 2. More

Magistrates' Court Sentencing Guidelines, pages 135, 148 and 151. More

Driving to a MOT test appointment without a current MOT certificate. More

Many thanks to Chris Hunt Cooke for his major contribution to this useful news item.

Posted: 140312
Your insurance company will inform you when your renewal is due and the DVLA will inform you when your road tax is due but there is no official reminder when your current MOT test certificate is due to expire and renewal is necessary. With classic cars the insurance, road tax disc and MOT expiry dates can get out of sync so the renewal dates can be at various times in the year - losing track of the MOT expiry date is very easy to do. What may not be generally known is the consequences of driving a car without a current MOT (even unwittingly) can be a costly fine.
No valid MOT certificate - what is the offence?
The MOT offence in s.47 RTA 1988 is defined as “A person who uses on a road at any time, or causes or permits to be so used, a motor vehicle to which this section applies, and for which no test certificate has been issued within the appropriate period before that time, is guilty of an offence.” Therefore use on a road is the crucial point, simply being the registered keeper of such a vehicle is not an offence. Note that "use" for this purpose is widely defined and would include parking on a public road or place.
The offence of driving without an MOT does not carry penalty points. However if your car is on a SORN, so is off the road, not having a valid MOT is not an offence, but before you can apply (as the registered keeper of the vehicle) for a new tax disc you would need to have your car MOT tested and a valid MOT test certificate with your application for the tax disc.

ANPR and the power of computer based vehicle records and checks

Records of all UK registered vehicles along with the current status of the road tax, insurance and MOT test for each vehicle are now kept on computer databases.
The Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system used by police vehicles and certain static roadside cameras can access DVLA records, the insurance database MID and the MOT database kept by VOSA (soon to be DVSA). The ANPR system can check the status of any vehicle, which includes the validity of the MOT test certificate. So detecting non compliant vehicles is now a far easier and less costly exercise for DVLA and the police, particularly with identifying and tracing cars used on the public roads without motor insurance cover. Most motoring enthusiasts would feel tracing uninsured cars and their owners (or registered keepers) is very desirable and crushing some of the cars of the worst offenders is a good thing too as uninsured drivers are a real scourge and a cost to all law abiding motorists.

What is the penalty for driving a car without a valid MOT certificate?

No doubt the vast majority of cases are dealt with by a fixed penalty notice, which in this case is £50, increased from £30 in August 2013. It is not an endorsable offence, so there are no penalty points. Where a case goes to court, either contested by the vehicle owner (for example the car was being driven to an appointment for an MOT test), or an MOT offence is wrapped up with another offence (for example having no insurance), the applicable penalty is given in the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 Sch 2 and is a maximum of a Level 3 fine for a normal car. Rather than alter thousands of pieces of legislation every time fines need to be updated, fines are set in relation to standard levels so that adjustments are simply made by redefining the standard level. The maximum Level 3 fine is currently £1,000 which is presumably where the media get their headline grabbing figure. As with all sentencing, the maximum sentence would only be considered for the worst possible instance of the offence, with no mitigation and every possible aggravating feature.

The starting point for sentencing most summary offences is given in the Magistrates’ Court Sentencing Guidelines, which courts are obliged to follow. This offence has a starting point of a Band A fine, 50% of Relevant Weekly Income, normally weekly net income. Generally net income is after income tax and National Insurance deductions. A guilty plea at the earliest opportunity attracts a discount of 33%. Victims’ Surcharge on fines is 10% with a minimum of £20. Prosecution costs for a summary matter on a guilty plea would probably be £85 (£620 following a not guilty plea and a trial, depending on witnesses called and complexity). For net weekly income of say £350 the starting point for a fine, following an early guilty plea, would be £350 x 50% x 67% - amounting to £117.25. The surcharge would be 10% of the fine, minimum £20, and costs £85. A total of £222.25.

Driving on the public road without a valid MOT certificate - an exception
You can drive your car without a current MOT to a pre-booked MOT test or after an MOT test failure to a pre-booked garage appointment for repairs. More

Will not having a current MOT certificate might invalidate part of your motor insurance cover?
Some press reports have suggested the absence of an MOT certificate might invalidate the insurance cover for the vehicle, but our understanding is this would not be the case as in fact any term in a policy which purported to do that would have no effect, see s.148 RTA 1988. However, depending on the wording of your motor insurance policy, your cover may be reduced if you do not have a current MOT certificate. More

How many cars miss the deadline for getting a new MOT certificate?
In a brief report in the Independent newspaper on 11th March 2014 they said "more than 335,000 motorists risk a fine every month by missing the renewal of their car's MOT." This surprising figure presumably includes both cars seen on the road by ANPR and quietly parked up in garages or on private drives. With greater awareness of the fine for failing to have a current MOT one would expect this number to fall.
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