Crackdown on uninsured drivers

16 September 2009

Drivers who keep fail to insure unused cars face being fined and even having their vehicle destroyed under tough new government measures.

Currently, it is only an offence to drive a car without insurance in place – meaning owners of cars that aren’t in use have no obligation to pay for insurance as long as the vehicle is unused and kept off the road.

However, the government has now proposed new rules to tackle uninsured drivers, which include making it an offence to keep an uninsured vehicle.

The government has introduced several other initiatives in recent years to tackle uninsured drivers – including making it an offence to cause death while driving uninsured.

However, at the moment police can only tackle the problem by catching drivers in the act of driving without insurance. By widening the law to include all vehicles, even those out of use, it is hoped rogue drivers will have nowhere to hide.

Under the new rules, the DVLA and the insurance industry will work together to identify uninsured vehicles.

However, this means people who genuinely keep unused cars - parked in a garage or driveway, for example - also face fines. 

Failure to insure all owner vehicles could result in a £100 fine, the car being seized and destroyed and even legal prosecution, under the new rules. 

Motorists with uninsured vehicles will first receive a letter warning them that they will be fined unless they insure it within a set period.

Only vehicles with a valid Statutory Off Road Notice (SORN) will not be required to be insured. If you’re the registered keeper of a vehicle that’s not being taxed and is kept off the road you can make a SORN online, by phone, at a Post Office branch or when you apply for a refund of vehicle tax.

The new rules are still in the consultation stage, but the Department for Transport expects them to come into force after next April.

Road safety minister Paul Clark says the new measures will make Britain’s road safer. Government figures show 160 people are killed and 23,000 injured each year as a result of uninsured and untraced vehicles.

An estimated two million motorists drive without insurance, risking a penalty of up to £5,000 and 6-8 penalty points. Around 300,000 offenders are convicted for uninsured driving every year.

“We’ve already taken action to force this irresponsible minority off the roads – increased police powers mean more than 400 uninsured vehicles are seized every day,” Clark says. “But these tough new measures will catch anyone who is keeping an uninsured vehicle, leaving them with nowhere to hide.”

The government also says that making it an offence to keep an uninsured vehicle – even if not in use – will reduce insurance premiums for all.

Clark says uninsured driving costs law-abiding motorists more than £30 a year – adding up to £400 million in extra premiums each year.

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