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.
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.
DRIVING TO AN MOT APPOINTMENT WITHOUT Insurance
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.