Driving without insurance

Whatever the cause, we know that facing a charge of driving without insurance can really weigh on your mind.

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The law is clear on the issue of motor insurance, stating that anyone driving a vehicle must have at least third party insurance in order to do so. If you are charged, you have to prove you were insured at the time of driving in order to be found innocent.

You can also be charged with this offence if you were not driving. If you give permission for an uninsured driver to drive your vehicle, for example, you could be convicted of driving without insurance.

What constitutes driving without insurance?

Using a vehicle without at least third party insurance cover means you have committed an offence contrary to Section 143 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. The law says the driver, rather than the vehicle, must be insured at the time of driving.

Third party insurance only covers damage to other vehicles and not your own car in the event of an accident, and is almost always the cheapest type of insurance cover.

Police are investing in new technology to catch drivers who drive without insurance, and automatic number place recognition is expected to be used in future to check driver details and number plates against the information stored in the Motor Insurance Database.

Currently, however, police can only issue a fixed penalty notice for this offence, or a court summons if the fixed penalty notice is not accepted by the driver.

You are also liable for this offence if you allow anyone to drive your car when they are not adequately insured.

Equally, if you drive a friend’s car under the impression that your insurance policy covered you, then you are liable if it doesn’t. Your friend would also have committed the offence of allowing the vehicle to be used by an uninsured driver.

What are the penalties for driving without insurance?

The police could give you a fixed penalty of £300 and 6 penalty points if you’re caught driving a vehicle you’re not insured to drive.

If you're taken to court you could get:

  • a fine of up to £5,000
  • disqualified from driving
  • The police also have the power to seize, and in some cases, destroy the vehicle that’s being driven uninsured.

You are normally allowed seven days to take your insurance certificate to the police station after being stopped and asked. If you fail do so, you may be charged with a motoring document offence and you can be charged for two offences: driving without insurance, and failing to produce a valid insurance document.

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What are the defences to driving without insurance?

It is not uncommon for someone’s insurance to lapse without them realising, but this is not seen as a defence. If you did not have insurance at the time you were driving, then you are guilty in the eyes of the court – whether or not you realised you were uninsured.

However, if you can prove to the court you genuinely believed you were driving with insurance, then it may choose to lessen the penalty. For example if your employer had agreed to take responsibility for your insurance when driving on a business trip, or if your insurance company cancelled your policy without good cause and didn’t notify you that you would no longer be covered.

I’ve been given a driving without insurance charge that I want to dispute – what should I do?

If you wish to contest the charge made against you, you can contact First4Lawyers. Speaking to our team of advisors will mean we can help you establish your chances of an acquittal or a reduced penalty and find one of our experienced solicitors to work on your case.

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