Driving Without Insurance

The cases we see rarely involve a deliberate attempt to circumvent the insurance obligations but mostly fall into the category of inadvertence on the part of the driver or indeed where a third party has stated that the appropriate level of insurance cover is in place. Complexities often arise in relation why the insurance cover was lacking. We can ensure your case is properly presented and that the Court is made aware of the law relating to insurance cases which can often result in an acquittal or a complete admonition with no penalty points.

Section 143 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 requires every person who uses, or causes and permits another person to use, a motor vehicle on a road or other public place to have a policy of insurance in respect of third party risks.

The offence is one of strict liability and although it would appear to be a relatively uncomplicated matter as to whether a breach of the provisions has occurred, experience suggests to the contrary.

Close examination of the terms of the policy is required together with proper consideration of the statutory defence for persons using vehicles in the course of their employment and all other relevant circumstances.

You’re at risk of:

  • 6 – 8 Penalty points
  • A financial penalty up to £5,000
  • Disqualification on a discretionary basis

These offences carry an endorsement range of 6-8 penalty points and it should be noted that the Court has the power to disqualify, on a discretionary basis. Increasingly, these cases are proceeding by way of fixed penalty notice with the offer of 6 penalty points and a £300 fine. As this is the very minimum penalty prescribed by law, a driver guilty of an offence under Section 143 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 should be aware that by not accepting the fixed penalty notice, there is a possibility that an increased penalty or disqualification may be imposed by the Courts.

A common form of policy allows driving, with the permission of the insured person, by any person “who holds or has held a driving licence”. This clause can be crucial as it may permit insurance cover even if the person does not, at the time of driving or using the vehicle, hold a valid driving licence.

All too often, the assumption is made that simply because a driving licence is not valid that any associated insurance cover must be negated. This is not the case and proper enquiry should be undertaken to clarify the driving licence condition clause.

There is also a statutory defence for persons using vehicles in the course of their employment. There are three conditions that require to be established for a successful defence under Section 143(3) of the Road Traffic Act 1988:

(a) That the vehicle did not belong to him and was not in his possession under a contract of loan or hiring

(b) That he was using the vehicle in the course of his employment;

(c) That he neither knew nor had reason to believe that there was not in force in relation to the vehicle such a policy of insurance or security.

It is for an accused person to satisfy the Court of all three conditions on the balance of probabilities.

Special Reasons

It is possible for the Court to decide that special reasons exist for not endorsing in respect of an offence under Section 143 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. It should be noted that the concept of special reasons essentially links up to the circumstances of an offence and allows the Court to excuse the offender having regard to a mitigating or extenuating circumstance. This must not, in law, amount to a defence to the charge and must be directly connected to the commission of the offence and be a circumstance that the Court ought properly to take into consideration when imposing sentence.

An honest, but groundless, belief that the policy covered a particular use cannot amount to a special reason. The existence of special reasons is determined on the balance of probabilities. Typically the submissions need to be significantly persuasive in order to persuade the Court to refrain from imposing the usual number of penalty points or disqualifying.

Our Track Record

Click on the button below to see examples of how we have successfully defended this offence over the last decade

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FAQS

No insurance is generally dealt with by a fixed penalty being offered for 6 points and £300 fine. The range of penalties are 6-8 points up to discretionary disqualification.
There is a statutory defence to protect drivers who are driving a vehicle that they do not own, that they are driving in the course of their employment and that they had no reason to suspect was not insured. We have successfully defended many drivers in this unfortunate situation.
If you have driven a vehicle having been told by the owner that you were insured to drive and having a genuine belief that you were, the Court may accept that there are special reasons for not endorsing your licence with penalty points or to impose a fine. We have a great track record in preparing and conducting Special Reasons Proofs.
The onus is on the driver to satisfy the Court that there was a valid policy of insurance in place. You have a defence to the charge as your causation or permission was entirely dependent upon the assurance from the other driver that they were insured to drive your vehicle. We have a great track record in defending allegations of causing and permitting.
The onus is on the driver to satisfy the Court that there was a valid policy of insurance in place. If a policy was cancelled without your knowledge, it may be possible to argue that there are special reasons not to endorse your licence with penalty points or to impose a fine. We have a great track record in preparing and conducting Special Reasons Proofs.
The onus is on the driver to satisfy the Court that there was a valid policy of insurance in place. If a policy did not automatically renew at the end of the term we will investigate whether or not you have an argument on the grounds of special reasons. This may involve obtaining call recordings and transcripts from your insurer.
The Court can impose up to a Level 5 fine (presently £5,000) however most fines tend to be in the hundreds not thousands of pounds.
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Michael Lyon Solicitors
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