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Greater powers to seize and destroy uninsured vehicles

View profile for Sean Joyce
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The Government has created new powers to deal with uninsured vehicles. Official estimates suggest that up to 14 million motorists drive without insurance. This offence carries an endorsement of 6 - 8 points or a period of disqualification, together with a fine of up to £5,000. Over 200,000 people are prosecuted each year for this offence.
Under the Road Traffic Act it is an offence to use a vehicle without insurance. However, the new regulations go much further. The new system, called Continuous Insurance Enforcement, will create an offence of keeping a vehicle whilst uninsured. This means that cars must be insured at all times, irrespective of whether they are being driven. The only exception will be if the car’s owner makes a declaration that the car is permanently off the road, as is the case with car tax.
The regulations will give the DVLA the power to clamp and seize offending vehicles.
Motoring groups have expressed concern that unwitting; otherwise law-abiding motorists may be subject to this enforcement action due to administrative errors such as an accidental failure to renew.
However Transport Minister Mike Penning said “…safeguards must be in place to ensure that where offences are committed inadvertently, for example through illness delaying renewal of insurance or where a simple registration number mistake has been made on an insurance certificate, drivers are dealt with sympathetically.”
The Department for Transport also stressed that the powers to clamp, seize and destroy vehicles will be reserved for persistent offenders who ignore warnings. In the first instance an advisory letter will be sent to the owner of an uninsured vehicle. If the vehicle remains uninsured the owner will then receive a fine of £100. If the vehicle continues to be insured then action to clamp seize or destroy may be taken.
Mr. Penning stressed that the regulations were intended to provide extra tools to combat the increasing problem of uninsured drivers, stating that “uninsured drivers injure 23,000 people each year and ad £30 to every responsible motorist’s premium so we need to everything we can to keep them off the roads.”