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Insurance, car tax, MOTs and the law

It seems like common sense that you need to have insurance for your car, but there are an alarming number of people who don't know what’s required by law.

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On top of this many don’t know that an annual MOT check is a legal requirement for vehicles that are more than four years old or that you have to pay tax for cars.

Insurance and the law

It's against the law to drive a vehicle which has no valid insurance.

Additionally, it’s also an offence to keep an uninsured car on a driveway or in a garage.

Only cars which are registered with the DVLA as being unused – with a Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN) – can be kept uninsured and untaxed.

Each car must have third-party insurance as a minimum: if not, owners face a range of sanctions.

The police can issue an instant £100 fine and the vehicle could be impounded or destroyed.

A court prosecution could result in a £1,000 fine, points on your licence and even disqualification.

Even if a car is covered, if you aren't registered to drive it, you could face a £300 fixed-penalty notice, or a court fine of up to £5,000.

Tax penalties

tax

If you're the owner of a car which isn't registered with the DVLA as off the road, you're breaking the law.

There's an initial £80 fine, which can be halved if paid promptly, but you face a £1,000 penalty if the case goes to court and your car could be impounded.

Even though the tax disc has been phased out, you’ll still have to pay tax on your car. This is recorded on a central DVLA database.

MOT not optional

MOT

Once your car is four years old, it has to pass an annual MOT check to remain on the road.

This is a recent change, announced in the 2015 budget. Previously, you had to get an MOT after only three years.

The MOT assesses the likes of lights, brakes, steering and suspension, and the state of wheels and tyres.

The maximum cost of a test at present is £54.85, although many garages offer cheaper rates.

If you don't have a current MOT certificate, the police can issue an on-the-spot fine of £60, while court action can lead to a £1,000 fine.

Invalidate insurance

car insurance

If you don't have an up-to-date MOT, it could invalidate your car insurance.

This could in turn lead to penalties for driving uninsured, as set out above.

On the flip-side, there are also many who think they have to have their vehicles serviced every year. This isn't the case.

Some also believe carrying a spare tyre is compulsory – it’s not, though it may be worth keeping one around just in case.

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Chris Torney

Chris Torney

Chris is the former personal finance editor at the Daily Express. He's been a journalist for more than 10 years and contributes to a wide range of finance and business titles.Read more from Chris



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