Driving Without an MOT

All UK registered vehicles along with road tax, insurance and Ministry Of Transport test (MOT) test status are now kept on computer databases.

The Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) maintain their own computer databases as well as using others. Their systems automatically check each month the status of each vehicle, which includes validity of MOT test certificates. A vehicle that does not have a valid MOT test certificate has its registration details automatically passed onto the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) of police vehicles. Certain static road-side cameras use ANPR also.

Driving without MOT penalty

This enables police patrols to pull you over with ease and additionally, static cameras may also catch a vehicle driving without a valid MOT test certificate. The penalty for driving without an MOT is not generally too severe if dealt with swiftly.

No points are issued on a drivers licence although a fine is imposed by court of up to a maximum of £1000.

MOT certificate
Driving without an MOT certificate can incur a maximum of £1000 fine

A fixed penalty notice is usually the method dealt with by police which costs the driver £100. Failure to pay, or repeat offenders will receive a court summons where the fine will escalate and will include court costs.

Having a valid MOT test certificate doesn’t necessarily mean the vehicle is road worthy. Using a vehicle in a dangerous condition, for example defective brakes, illegal tyres, defective steering, can land a driver with significantly higher fines and points on their licence. The maximum fines imposed are:

  • LGV £5000
  • PCV £5000
  • Other vehicles including cars £2500

3 penalty points for each offence, for example 3 points for defective brakes, 3 points per illegal tyre, 3 penalty points for defective steering are placed on the drivers licence. Other than the initial fine and court costs, the financial burden is increased for a further 4 years – the duration in which the penalty point last on a drivers licence. If fortunate not to lose the licence due to exceeding 12 penalty points, the added points will certainly increase vehicle insurance premiums.

Does no MOT invalidate insurance?

It is a common misconception that driving around without a valid MOT will automatically invalidate car insurance. The majority of car insurance providers make no mention of an MOT and stipulate in the terms and conditions of the contract that the vehicle must be in a roadworthy condition. An MOT is no guarantee that your vehicle is in a roadworthy condition other than the moment you leave the MOT station with your new certificate. Also, those intentionally driving without a valid MOT would have no reason to purchase car insurance if it was automatically invalid.

Few car insurance companies stipulate that a valid MOT certificate must be present in the event of a claim, else the insurance will be void. Generally, for minor claims, the insurance provider will not ask to see a valid MOT certificate. For large claims, where the vehicle might be a write-off, things may become more complicated if no valid MOT has been issued for the vehicle.

Certainly not having a valid MOT does give an insurance company grounds not to honour a claim. In many situations however, it could be argued, especially by a legal representative that by not having a valid MOT was irrelevant due to the nature of an accident and what caused it may have perhaps been driver error (as in most cases) and not vehicle failure.

Ultimately it would cost insurance companies far too much in lost cases by small claims courts if they were to challenge every case due to not having a valid MOT. This is why claims are assessed on an individual basis, partly among other things such as driver error, is if the vehicle was in a roadworthy condition and whether a particular defect caused the accident.

An MOT certificate whether present or not provides no proof of the vehicle being in roadworthy condition. Often however, the lack of a valid MOT certificate simply results in a reduction of the claim settlement, if anything at all.

When can you drive without an MOT

To drive on a public road, a car must be taxed (unless exempt), insured and have a valid MOT. An exception to this however is if you are driving your vehicle to a pre-booked MOT test. This must be a direct route (no 10 mile detour to visit a friend for example) and to your ‘nearest’ garage that provides MOT tests. There is no law that defines the distance you can travel to a pre-booked MOT appointment. However, exceeding what might be deemed a reasonable and acceptable distance might offer grounds for a fixed penalty or potentially a ‘notice of intended prosecution’ (NIP) depending on the vehicle defects.

Take into account that even though you may be legally traveling to a pre-booked MOT, other factors such as defective tyres, brakes or lights (as an example), may not constitute as an acceptable condition to be on a public road and may be dealt with accordingly, regardless of an MOT appointment. Driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition may result in penalty points and a fine of up to £2,500. If you consider your vehicle to be unroadworthy and in a dangerous condition, you may wish to consider taking your vehicle to the MOT appointment via trailer.

Driving to an MOT Appointment Without Tax

If you are not using your vehicle on public roads and you do not wish to tax it, it must be declared with a SORN. The exception here is that a vehicle with a SORN (no tax) can be legally driven to a pre-booked MOT.


You must have valid insurance to use your vehicle on public roads, even whilst driving to a pre-booked MOT appointment. Having no valid MOT does not necessarily void an insurance policy (as detailed above), but driving a vehicle in an unroadworthy or dangerous condition likely will.

Stopped by the Police

If you’re stopped by police on the way to your MOT appointment, be prepared. Take along contact telephone details of the garage so they may be contacted and any other proof of your appointment booking. Ideally of course, take advantage of a garages MOT test reminder service so you can get your car tested up to 1 month before your old MOT expires.

Can I drive My Car if it Fails the MOT?

If your vehicle fails the MOT, you can drive your vehicle to a garage to have the failed defects fixed or to another pre-booked MOT test. Again, this does not apply if your vehicle is unroadworthy and unsafe. This may be noted by the MOT tester. If it is unsafe, you’ll need to have your vehicle fixed at its current location or placed on a trailer for removal.

The ideal situation is to have your vehicle tested before your current MOT expires. Providing your vehicle hasn’t been noted as unroadworthy and dangerous, you can continue to drive it as normal and get a new, valid MOT before the old one expires.

Remembering car MOT

Nobody wants to receive a fixed penalty notice for £100 for having no valid MOT certificate. It is however all too easy to forget to have you car tested. Many garages the provide MOT testing services offer an additional free reminder service. This can be in the form of a telephone call, text or letter. Ask your local garage if you can be included into this service as it will prevent you from the risk of driving without an MOT test certificate.

The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) also operates a text MOT reminder service. To use this service, you must use a UK registered mobile phone and vehicle. You must provide the vehicles latest MOT test certificate number and to allow your mobile phone to incur a charge of £1.50 per year each time this service is used. See here for further information on this service.


21 thoughts on “Driving Without an MOT”

  1. Raj

    I have been stopped by police for finishing MOT a week prior and I have been told that I will be getting a ticket of £100/- But I didn’t received it yet! Its already been over 2 Months and I have waiting for a ticket How can I check if I have missed any letter or Ticket.
    Kindly advice

  2. Hello Raj,
    You will need to contact the police department responsible for issuing you the ticket. As it’s been over two months, it’s likely you may receive a summons for court, unless of course it’s an administrative error on their part.

  3. Jos

    Hi there I was stopped in a company car that had expired mot and was not aware of this. The police officer issued me with a ticket for no mot but I am not the owner of the vehicle is there grounds on appeal for this? Or can the fine be sent to owner of vehicle.

  4. Hi Jos,
    I’m afraid that the police will view this as you were the one driving it, therefore the one committing the offence.

  5. Adam

    I was pulled over by police and when my details were checked, my mot had expired. I was told it it was passed within ten days there would be no further action I have done this and passed an not inspection however came home to find a fixed penalty notice for £100. I can’t prove they said there would be no further action so it is worth going to court over it?

  6. Hello Adam,
    Who told you about the 10 days? As far as I’m aware, you are only permitted to drive a car on a public road that doesn’t have a valid MOT to an MOT test appointment. Even then, the police officer would require proof that that is indeed what you’re doing. Not aware of any ’10 day rule’ I’m afraid.

  7. Hi,
    I had recently been pulled over by the police in northern London and the officer had informed me that my MOT had been expired for 35 days. He said I would receive a letter that would include a fine but upon further research I’ve learned that the penalty could be far more severe; a possible invalidation of my driving licence. I don’t mind paying the £100 fine but I’m anxious about losing my driving licence. How likely is it that I would lose it?

  8. Hello J
    I believe that the driving ban only applies if you’ve been caught driving with an expired MOT twice in three years. But this is for driving a vehicle that’s very much unroadworthy. Outside of this extreme, it’s far more likely that you’ll receive a fixed penalty notice with a fine of £100.

  9. Greg

    I was pulled over by the police for driving without valid MOT as it expired about 20 days ago. I thought during the lockdown your MOT was extended by 6 months hence I haven`t booked MOT. Is it worth taking it to court or shall I pay £100 fine? Thanks

  10. Hi Greg,
    MOT test centres are open as usual from January 2021, so yes you’ll need to pay the fine unfortunately.

  11. Jay Bullen

    I was caught driving without an MOT recently. I had a warning and paid the £100 fine.
    My car insurance is due for renewal. I am trying to find a code for driving without an mot to declare on my car insurance but I can’t.
    Does this mean I don’t have to declare it to my insurance? Or will it be under another driving offence code ?

  12. Matthew Everard

    I was stopped by the police for not having an MOT on 02/05/2021. I have received a letter in the post today 30/06/2021, with a £100.00 fine. Can i challenge this, as its been over 2 weeks since the offence took place?

  13. Hi Matthew,
    If you’re referring to a notice of intended prosecution, if it was issued at the time, verbally by the police officer, the 14 day rule doesn’t apply.

  14. Jodie

    Hi. My car’s MOT has run out so I need to drive to a garage to get it done. I have a friend with a garage who will give me a reduced rate but he is 40 miles away. Would this be considered an ‘unreasonable’ distance?

  15. Hi Jodie,
    I suppose it would depend on where you are; rural, suburban, urban etc, and how many MOT stations there are closer. There’s no defined rule on distances. I would think that 40 miles away and provided you can prove you have your vehicle booked in, might be deemed acceptable, but equally, it could simply come down to the officer that pulls you and the mood they’re in.

  16. Martin H.

    Will a fixed penalty notice which I received for driving with no MOT, £100 fine, affect my insurance. I tried to add it to my details on the proposal form but there was no relevant code for it. Regards.

  17. Norman Vingoe

    Police stop en route to garage the evening before a booked MOT. Officer view garages close at 5pm. Letter received for £100 fine or court. How to proceed?
    Garage owned by friend who opens late and takes to MOT on customer behalf.

  18. Hi Norman,
    You should be able to contest the fine if you can get the garage owner to confirm that the vehicle was on its way to an appointment.

  19. Lynda

    Hi pulled over by police on the 13/11/2023 driving without MOT he stated that I would receive a 3 figure fine and no points however have not received anything in post and am beginning to worry is this normal?

  20. Hi Lynda,
    After the verbal notice of intended prosecution, it can take up to 6 months for the fixed penalty notice to arrive.

  21. Lynda

    thank you thought it was 28 days – have lost the green slip and have been very worried.

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