New Driver Legislation

As part of Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE), it is now a legal requirement for registered vehicle keepers to insure their vehicle(s) at all times.   The Department for Transport brings into force new measures in June 2011 outlined as the ‘Continuous Insurance Enforcement’ (CIE). The measures followed the recommendations of Professor David Greenaway’s review of motor insurance in the UK and are aimed at driving the estimated 1.5 million uninsured drivers off the roads of Britain.

You don’t have to be driving to be caught. It is now an offence to keep a vehicle without insurance unless you have notified the DVLA that your vehicle is being kept off the road and have a valid Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN).

Under the new system, MIB and the DVLA will work in partnership to identify uninsured vehicles by comparing DVLA vehicle records against those held on the Motor Insurance Database (MID).

The registered keeper will be sent an Insurance Advisory Letter (IAL) telling them that their vehicle appears to be uninsured and warning them that they will be fined unless they take action.  If the keeper fails to comply with the advice set out in the letter they will face:

  • a fixed penalty notice of £100
  • their vehicle being clamped, seized and disposed of
  • a court prosecution with a minimum fine of £1,000.00, and a maximum fine of £5000.00

These new measures are in addition to the powers the police already have to seize an uninsured vehicle and fine the driver.  Driving a vehicle on a road or in a public place without insurance against third party risk is an offence. You need to be correctly insured for the vehicle you intend to drive or you could face a fixed penalty notice, or a maximum fine of £5,000, and the automatic endorsement of an offender’s licence with six to eight penalty points. Courts can also order the immediate disqualification of the offender. The police also now have wide powers to stop vehicles and inspect certificates, and this now leads to around 300,000 convictions for uninsured driving every year.

The cost to you

Uninsured drivers inflict a major financial burden on other motorists, estimated at around £380 million each year or around £30 of the cost of each insurance premium. The damage caused in road traffic accident results in large number of claims for settlement by the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB).

Uninsured drivers also impose other costs on society. Research and surveys show that uninsured drivers are more likely to be involved in road traffic collisions, and fail to follow the rules of The Highway Code.

Compliance and enforcement

The DfT is in continuing discussions with the police and the insurance industry to work out the most effective way to crack down on uninsured driving. Provisions in the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 enable the police to use their access to the Motor Insurance Database in conjunction with their Automatic Number Plate Reading equipment. As a result the police are now seizing around 1,500 uninsured vehicles per week.

The continuous insurance enforcement scheme will provide a new fixed penalty for people who ignore official reminders that their insurance has expired. This will apply to vehicles that are not declared as being off the road through SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) and not insured. Continuing offenders will risk having their vehicle seized and destroyed.

Where a motor vehicle isn’t used on a road or other public place, there’s no requirement to purchase insurance cover for ‘on road risk’ as long as a SORN declaration has been made.

Penalties

The seriousness of the offence is reflected in the level of the maximum fine of £5,000, and the automatic endorsement of an offender’s licence with six to eight penalty points. The courts can also order the immediate disqualification of the offender. The police also have wide powers to stop vehicles and inspect certificates, and this leads to around 300,000 convictions for uninsured driving every year.

Driving without insurance can be punishable within the fixed penalty system. The fixed penalty of £200 and six penalty points allows a more thorough enforcement of this offence. The possibility of a fixed penalty gives the police an extra option for dealing with the offence concerned, but it doesn’t prevent the police’s ability to prosecute in appropriate cases when they consider that to be the best course of action.

The police have the power to seize, and in some cases, destroy the vehicle that’s being driven uninsured. Any vehicle seized under these powers will only be released on payment of the fixed penalty and must show a valid insurance certificate. The vehicle will only be released to the registered keeper of the vehicle or, if there’s no registered keeper, to the person appearing to be the owner. The police can dispose of vehicles not claimed within a set time.

The Road Safety Act 2006 makes provision for harsher sentences for those who kill or are involved in accidents while driving uninsured.

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