The UK’s motorists are being urged to check their vehicle paperwork in the wake of lockdown to ensure they are not breaking the law.
During lockdown many people stopped using their cars altogether and some chose to officially declare their vehicle off the road in order to save money.
By making a Statutory Off Road Notice (SORN) drivers could stop paying tax on their car and, if they wanted, cancel the insurance. They also didn’t have to have an MOT, potentially saving them hundreds of pounds in total.
However, with travel restrictions removed and most people back at work, drivers are leaving themselves at risk of fines and potential prosecution if they don’t make sure their paperwork is in order.
With the rush to get back to normal, it’s easy to lose track of your car’s status but if you’ve SORN’d a vehicle and then drive it on the public road, you could be liable for a fine of up to £2,500. The only exception is if you are taking the car for an MOT test.
Similarly, if you decided to cancel your insurance while your car wasn’t in use you need to make sure you’ve reinstated your policy or risk a fine or even losing your car.
Driving without insurance carries a fixed penalty notice of £100 but if you are taken to court this can rise to £1,000. You also risk having your car clamped, impounded or even crushed.
Thanks to a database shared by the DVLA and Motor Insurers’ Bureau, it is easy for authorities to implement legislation called Continuous Insurance Enforcement. The Motor Insurance Database allows them to quickly cross-reference details and identify uninsured vehicles.
Usually, drivers are issued with a warning letter first - around 3,000 such letters are issued every day - and if they fail to act they could face prosecution.
Alex Kindred, car insurance expert at Confused.com, commented: “The number of people applying for a SORN more than doubled at the start of lockdown. And our research found that nearly a third of drivers (32 per cent) who took their car off the road or cancelled their insurance did so to save money.
“But with many of us returning to the roads, it’s important that we’re taking the right steps to avoid receiving a fine.”
Adding to the confusion is the MOT extension granted to millions of motorists, who now have to ensure their car is tested before the revised expiry date. Failing to do so could land you with a fine of between £60 and £1,000 fine for driving without a valid MOT.