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Driving Without Insurance Glasgow & Scotland

Car insurance is an absolute must-have when you drive a car. There are many different types of available insurance; the most basic one being third-party insurance. This protects you against the claims of another person (a third party) in the event of an accident. On top of this, you can choose to add protection against fire and theft, go with comprehensive insurance which covers damage to your own car, and many other options.

To drive without at least third-party insurance is a criminal offence under the Road Traffic Act 1988. Similarly, it is an offence to let someone drive your car knowing they have no insurance. Whether you know your insurance has run out and are thinking of risking it just for that one journey, or whether it’s just an accident resulting from a missed direct debit instalment or a breakdown in communication with the insurer, it is still illegal. It is vital that you seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity. This could be the difference between keeping and losing your licence.

WHAT COUNTS AS AN OFFENCE?

  1. I. SECTION 143 OF THE ROAD TRAFFIC ACT

Section 143 of the Road Traffic Act 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. This means that if you drive your car without insurance or allow someone else to drive your car knowing there is no insurance, you will be guilty of this offence. This is what is called a ‘strict liability’ offence. This means that you are guilty of the offence regardless of whether you mean to commit it or not.

  1. II. DO I ALWAYS NEED INSURANCE?

Note that this offence only applies for when you are on public roads or land. If you are driving on land that cannot be accessed by the public then insurance is not required. If the car is declared off the road using the SORN procedure; if it is scrapped, stolen or exported with notice; between registered keepers or dealers; and when the car is registered as ‘in trade’ with the DVLA are all further examples of when insurance is not needed. It may come as a surprise, however, that even being parked on a road with no intention to move or drive the car still requires insurance. This is because the vehicle is still physically on the road, so falls within the qualifying category. You may be able to argue for mitigating circumstances, but you would still be guilty of an offence.

  • III. DOES COMPREHENSIVE INSURANCE ALLOW ME TO DRIVE SOMEONE ELSE’S CAR?

It is always vital to pay close attention to the details of your insurance policy. It is sometimes thought that having comprehensive insurance insures you to drive any vehicle. Whilst ‘driving other cars’ cover is sometimes included, it is always subject to lots of terms and conditions. Contained in this is usually something about age and/or level of experience. It would be easy to accidentally break the law under the false assumption that your comprehensive insurance allows you to drive a vehicle and indeed allows other people to drive your vehicle. For this reason, really knowing your insurance policy is key.

This offence can be more complicated than it sounds. As you probably know, insurance policies can sometimes be confusing to read due to the amount of detail. For this reason, close examination of the terms of the policy is required. It could be the case that even if the car itself is insured but you are not properly insured to drive it, that you can still be penalised. This is why it is recommended that you always get in contact with an experienced road traffic lawyer.

GETTING STOPPED BY THE POLICE

Most people realise they are driving without insurance for the first time when they actually get stopped by the Police for that very reason. The Police have number plate recognition cameras so are able to instantly tell if someone has insurance or not.

If you are stopped, you may be asked to present your insurance documents. If you don’t have them to hand, you have seven days to provide them. You may think an easy way to get around this would be to quickly purchase some form of insurance in that seven-day gap. This is not possible. It has to have been a valid policy at the time you were actually stopped.

Even if you already do have insurance, make sure you pay close attention to it. You should check it carefully for mistakes. Make sure you are aware of any upcoming payments and ensure that there are no miscommunications between yourself and the insurance company resulting in them accidentally cancelling or not renewing the policy.

WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES?

If you are charged, there are three sentencing options available to the Court. They can choose from disqualification from driving; endorsing your driving licence with between six and eight penalty points; or issuing a fine. The Court are able to impose a fine of up to £5000 (a level five fine) although they usually tend to be in the hundreds rather than thousands of pounds. The Police also have the power to seize and, in some cases, destroy the vehicle that has been driven uninsured.

Often, these cases can proceed by way of a fixed penalty notice. This is the usual, and it is for the Police to then decide whether a case is more serious and needs to be dealt with in Court. Receiving a fixed penalty notice means that you will be offered a penalty that you can accept without having to go to Court. This entails an endorsement of 6 penalty points and a £300 fine. This is the very minimum – so not accepting the fixed penalty notice could result in an increased penalty including potential disqualification.

You could also be liable for other costs. It would be your responsibility to then pay the resulting higher car insurance premium and, depending on the policy, costs associated with the accident.

DRIVING WITHOUT INSURANCE DEFENCES

  1. I. ‘ANY PERSON WHO HOLDS OR HAS HELD A DRIVING LICENCE’

Usually, insurance policies contain a clause allowing driving with permission of the insured person ‘by any person who holds or has held a driving licence’. People often assume that just because a driving licence is no longer valid that the corresponding insurance cannot be valid either. This is not the case and is why proper enquiry should be undertaken to clarify the ‘driving licence condition’ clause of the insurance. This could make the difference. 

  1. II. STATUTORY DEFENCE FOR DRIVING IN THE COURSE OF EMPLOYMENT

If you are driving a vehicle in the course of your employment (i.e. whilst you are carrying out the orders of your employer during your normal working circumstances) and are uninsured then you may qualify for this defence. Three conditions have to first be satisfied. The vehicle must not belong to you or be given to you on loan/hire; the vehicle must be being used in the course of your employment; and you cannot know or have reason to believe that there was no policy of insurance or security in place. It is for you as the accused to prove this to the Court.

If you are successful, then the employer can be prosecuted for ‘causing or permitting’ another person to drive without insurance.

  • III. THE ‘SPECIAL REASONS’ DEFENCE

Having a special reason will not exempt you completely from any penalties but may lessen them. There are various different reasons which could come under this category. This is why a hearing is required. If the reason links up to the circumstances of the offence the Court could excuse the offender because of this ‘special reason’ or explanatory circumstance.

You must persuade the Court on the balance of probabilities that your reason comes under this category. This means that your submissions need to be relatively persuasive.

Some examples of qualifying special reasons are:

  • If the insurance provider has cancelled the policy without notifying you;
  • If the policy is not in force due to faults of the provider
  • If you’re informed (by the vehicle owner or policyholder) that you can legally drive the vehicle;
  • That you have a genuine reason to believe you are insured.

If, for example, your policy was cancelled without your knowledge, the blame is still on you However, by arguing a special reason you could get off lighter than you would have otherwise. On the other hand, accidentally letting your policy lapse is not a legitimate defence. Even if you are left uninsured for a single day this could lead to significant consequences. There is no obligation on your insurer to automatically renew your insurance and it is always your responsibility to check you are covered before you drive. if you need further information or need legal services regarding driving without insurance, contact our road traffic solicitors at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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