Driving whilst uninsured sounds like an easy offence to avoid, however it is easier to do than you would expect. Take this for an example, a driver assumes that their fully comprehensive policy covered them to drive other cars. However, following an accident they had when driving another vehicle, the customer later finds out they were not covered by their insurance. This was not spelled out in the policy documents but was tucked away on page five of a ‘Renewal update leaflet’.
Now, the driver is being penalised for uninsured driving and the owner of the vehicle being penalised for allowing someone to drive without insurance.
What does the Law say?
According to section 143 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, it is an offence to use a motor vehicle on a road or public place, such as a car park, without insurance coverage. To be charged with this offence it is not always necessary that the motor vehicle was being driven. For example, if it is parked on a road or other public place insurance is required.
It is also illegal for an insured driver to allow someone to drive their vehicle without insurance. If an insured driver with a fully comprehensive insurance policy allows an uninsured driver to drive their vehicle, the insured driver will be held responsible and liable to any damage or accident that the uninsured driver causes.
Driving without insurance is a strict liability offence. A strict liability offence is an offence which requires no proof or evidence of mens rea in relation to one or more aspects of the actus reus.
What happens once I have been caught driving without insurance?
The driver who has been caught driving without insurance will receive an IN10 endorsement on their licence which will last for four years.
What is the penalty for driving without insurance?
The minimum penalty is 6 driving licencepoints and a fine. The Police are able to offer fixed penalties to drivers caught driving or using a vehicle without valid insurance.The maximum penalty is disqualification from driving and a fine of up £5,000. In some cases, a short period of disqualification may be the more preferable option particularly if the person accused is a new driver who would stand to lose their licence if given 6 penalty points.
The penalties for permitting someone else to drive uninsured are the same as if you were caught driving with no insurance. These penalties are a fine of up to £5,000, an endorsement of between six and eight penalty points on your driving license and a possible disqualification from driving.
The police will decide whether more serious cases are to be handled in court. These may include cases where a driver has never passed a driving test, has given false details or was driving a higher risk vehicle, such as an HGV.
A court can issue:
- An unlimited fine,
- Disqualification from driving.
Can I avoid a conviction?
In order to avoid conviction for driving without insurance it will normally be necessary to produce a valid certificate covering use of the vehicle to the Court. Before doing so, it is a good idea to attend a police station to ask them to check the documents and provide you with confirmation in writing that it is valid.
What if I have made a genuine mistake?
Many drivers who are found guilty of allowing someone to drive without insurance receive this offence through innocent misunderstandings on the driver’s part. Even if there is no defence to driving without insurance, it may still be possible to argue special reasons. Special reasons apply if the person accused had a genuine and reasonably held belief that insurance was in place. An example of a possible special reason could be a missed payment on their insurance policy or confusion as to what their insurance policy actually covered.
There is also a defence for when the person accused of the offence was driving in the course of their employment. This requires evidence that the car being driven did not belong to the driver and that they did not know or have reason to believe that they were not insured. The offence of causing or permitting use of a vehicle without insurance carries the same penalty. But, in cases where this defence might be relevant, there will be a lot of scrutiny as to whether there is enough evidence to prove that permission had been given by the employer.
How will my car insurance be affected if I am convicted?
Many vehicle insurance companies may refuse to provide a quote for drivers with an IN10 conviction. The UK law states that it is illegal to drive a vehicle on a road or in a public place without at least third-party insurance. After a driver is convicted allowing someone to drive without insurance, their insurance premium can drastically increase.
Insurance policies normally contain conditions which restrict the circumstances under which claims can be made but this does not mean that an offence has been committed where those conditions apply. It is not possible for a policy to be retrospectively disapplied. For example, a policy which states that it does not apply where the driver commits an offence of careless or dangerous driving does not mean that the offence of driving without insurance then applies.
Similarly, policies which restrict cover according to age (for example, one which states that it does not cover those under the age of 25) have no effect in relation to whether an offence of driving without insurance has been committed.
What about insurance and young drivers?
It is important to remember that if a driver is under the age of twenty-five, insurance companies do not offer the option of driving other cars, even if the driver has full comprehensive cover.Also, do not assume that as soon as a driver turns twenty-five they will automatically be entitled to the benefit of driving other cars. Most insurers exclude anyone who falls within the “young driver” age bracket, being seventeen to twenty-five.
When a driver turns twenty-five, they will have to contact their insurance company and requests the insurance company adjusts their policy. Remember, this could still be charged as an extra to the driver’s insurance. Some insurers only include this on the renewal of the insurance after the driver’s twenty-fifth birthday.
How can Driving Solicitors help?
If you have been charged with driving whilst uninsured, we are here to help. We can provide you with our expert defence team to represent your case in court and help you avoid a potentially damaging criminal record.
We will look at all the facts of the accusation and decide what defence against the driving offence is best for your case. This will also include everything from the facts of the case all the way to whether your actions actually amounted to a criminal act.
Our team of litigators and advocates have many years of experience analysing complex factual scenarios and applying them to often novel areas of law. This ensures that we get the best possible results for our clients. Please do not hesitate to call us on 020 3545 1000 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org to get expert legal advice for you and your case.