Road policing officers took action this month with campaign ‘Operation Drive Insured’ to target uninsured motorists and improve road safety measures throughout Scotland. Between the 7th and 13th of September 2019, twenty drivers in the North-East alone were charged at the side of the road as well as having their vehicle seized for failing to have valid insurance.
Across Scotland, more than 7,000 uninsured vehicles were seized last year, and it has been estimated there are currently 40,000 uninsured drivers on the road today. Glasgow has been named as the worst affected area for uninsured motorists, with other hotspots including Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Inverness.
With a worryingly high number of uninsured drivers, we have created a guide explaining the types of penalties imposed, the dangers of lending your car to another motorist and the law on parked vehicles.
We have noticed an increasing amount of people who are being stopped by the police and being told that they do not have insurance to cover their vehicle. On many occasions, motorists are adamant that they are covered, only for the police to advise them that their insurance policy has been cancelled, seemingly without their knowledge! The police view these matters as black and white – either you have a valid insurance policy, or you don’t! And unfortunately, if you don’t, whether or not you knew about it, you will receive either a fixed penalty notice or a citation to attend court.
These types of cases are usually dealt with by way of a fixed penalty fine of £300 and six penalty points. In more severe cases – for example, if the driver never passed a driving test – the offence may be handled in court, where a fine of up to £5,000 or a driving disqualification could be imposed.
The police also have the power to seize, or even, destroy the vehicle that is driven uninsured. It is important to note that additional costs could include a higher car insurance premium and any expenses associated with an accident that may occur during the offence. If you are facing a charge of driving without insurance in Glasgow or the surrounding areas, it is imperative you get specialist legal advice from a qualified road traffic professional.
Police have number plate recognition cameras, so they’ll know straight away whether a car is insured or not. If you’re stopped and asked to show your documents, you have up to seven days to provide a current insurance certificate. It has to be a valid policy at the time you were stopped meaning you cannot buy insurance during the seven-day period in order to be covered.
As of April 2011, even parked cars must have valid insurance under rules called Continuous Insurance Enforcement law. Under this scheme, the DVLA and the MIB work together to identify people whose insurance has lapsed. The driver will be notified and warned that, unless they insure their car, they’ll face either:
You can avoid being prosecuted for a parked car if you declare the vehicle as ‘off the road’ by filling in a Statutory Off Road Notification (commonly known as SORN). If you are unable to use the car because of extensive repairs, or you are going abroad for an extended period, you should declare the vehicle as off the road to avoid being charged.
Many people assume their personal comprehensive car insurance policy allows them to drive another vehicle, however, as rules have tightened over the years, there are now instances where you may not be covered to drive other vehicles at all. It’s important to remember that it’s not the car that’s insured – it’s the driver. Therefore, even if the owner of the car has an insurance policy for the vehicle, each driver must have their own insurance or be named explicitly in the policy.
While driving other cars (DOC) cover used to be included in several comprehensive policies, it’s become apparent that a number of policies do not offer it by default anymore. Even if you have full cover, many companies now exclude motorists under the age of 25, so it’s always best to carefully check the details of your policy first. Occupation can also play a role in whether your comprehensive cover will include DOC. Those who work in the motor industry, for example, will often be refused DOC cover as it is deemed too risky.
The owner of the car has committed an offence if they’ve allowed their vehicle to be used by an uninsured driver, meaning both the driver and vehicle owner could receive up to eight points and a fine. This can become even more complicated should the driver cause any damage to the car. Not only could the car owner be charged, but they could also be out-of-pocket to pay for any repairs to the vehicle.
In the eyes of the law, it doesn’t matter if your insurance lapsed a year before or a day before you were caught. Driving uninsured is a legitimate offence regardless of how long it has been, and it is your responsibility, as the driver, to make sure you’re covered at all times.
When people contact us regarding this type of matter, the first thing they say to us is- “but I didn’t know my policy had been cancelled- my insurance company never told me. They haven’t sent me a letter to tell me”. The question we then ask is ‘if you have taken out your insurance policy online, then have they sent you an email notifying you of this?’ This is where the problems begin to unfold.
With the rise of mobile technology, and companies moving towards “paperless” accounts, many motorists will never receive anything other than email correspondence from their insurance company. Even serious matters such as payment reminders and cancellation notices are being emailed to motorists. So if you take out a policy online, should you reasonably expect that if the policy should subsequently be cancelled early then you will at least receive some kind of formal notification from the insurers before they cancel the policy?!
The good news is that if you have been stopped and charged with no insurance, depending on the circumstances, then there may be a way that we can help you. Each case must always be assessed upon its own individual merits, but there is a special procedure which if successful could mean that matters are dealt with without you getting any points on your licence at all!
If you or someone you know has been charged with driving with no insurance, or even permitting another person to drive with no insurance, then speak to us before you do anything. Get in touch today by calling 0141 374 2121 or completing the online enquiry form to see how our qualified road traffic team can help you.