If you are caught driving without insurance, you face six penalty points and a fine. You may also get a driving ban, depending on the circumstances.

If you have been caught driving without car insurance, or you have been accused of allowing someone to drive your car without insurance, contact our driving without insurance Solicitor. We are specialist motor defence solicitors and can represent you throughout proceedings. It may be possible to reduce the penalty, or even have the charge thrown out.

Driving without insurance and the law

If you drive a vehicle on a public road in England or Wales, you must have a least third-party insurance. Even if you have fully comprehensive insurance on your own vehicle, that does not necessarily mean that you are insured to drive someone else’s car – it all depends on the terms and conditions of your policy.

Furthermore, if you allow someone else to drive your vehicle, you must check that the necessary insurance coverage is in place. If you fail to do so and the insurance is not valid, then you could also face repercussions. This is known as causing or permitting a person to use a vehicle without insurance. If you are found guilty of this offence, you could face the same penalties as if you were the one driving no insurance.

Penalty for driving without insurance UK

There are a range of possible punishment for driving without insurance. This largely comes down to whether or not you are given a Fixed Penalty Notice by the police, or whether you are summoned to court.

If you are given a Fixed Penalty Notice, you will likely receive:

  • Fine for driving without insurance, £300; and
  • Six penalty points

If your case goes to court, then the penalties available include:

  • An unlimited fine
  • Penalty points
  • Disqualification from driving

The police can also tow and impound the vehicle. If this is not collected within the necessary time frame, it will be destroyed for scrap. This can present its own challenges, because not all insurance policies cover the collection of vehicles impounded by government agencies. You need to check that you have the correct insurance in place before you retrieve the vehicle.

How will the police know if I have insurance?

While the police are on patrol, they routinely run number plates through a piece of specialist software. This tells them whether the vehicle is MOT’d and insured. If the system flags a vehicle as being uninsured, then the police will stop the vehicle and initiate legal proceedings. There are also stationary cameras positioned across the country known as Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR). These automatically check your number plates against a database.

Alternatively, you might be stopped on suspicion of committing another offence, such as drink driving or running a red light. The police are allowed to stop you at the roadside as and when they like. The attending police officer may ask to see your insurance documents. If you cannot produce an insurance certificate at the scene, you have seven days in which to present one at a police station. If you fail to do so – or your insurance is discovered to be invalid – then you will be charged with driving without insurance.

What should I do?

If you are offered a Fixed Penalty Notice, then you must decide whether or not to accept it. You might decide this is the best option, especially if you do not currently have any points on your licence. However, you should speak to one of our solicitors before making a decision. There may be unforeseen consequences that you have not considered. For example, the cost of your insurance premiums will increase. If you already have six or more points on your licence, then the additional penalty points will tip you over the 12-point limit, meaning you will get an automatic driving ban. This is called a totting up ban. We can advise you on the implications of accepting a Fixed Penalty Notice for driving without car insurance, helping you understand the best option in your circumstances.

If you are summoned to court, or you reject the Fixed Penalty Notice, then you need to instruct a solicitor. At Ashmans Solicitors, we can consider your position and determine how to proceed in your case.

Is it possible to defend the charge?

Driving without insurance does not have a complete defence. In other words, if you are caught uninsured on a public road, then the court will say that you are guilty. However, that does not mean that all is lost in your case. There may be ways to overturn the charge, or at least minimise the penalty.

You were on a private road

For instance, it may be that you were actually on a private road. The law only applies to vehicles that are on public roads. Defining a ‘public’ road is a bit of a grey area. Generally, if the public has access to it, then it is considered a public road. This includes supermarket car parks. However, if you were caught driving without vehicle insurance on private property, the prosecution must fail.

You had a valid insurance policy

Or perhaps you did in fact have a valid insurance policy? The terms and conditions of insurance policies can be complicated. We will review the documents and determine whether you did have a valid policy of insurance. If so, the prosecution must fail.

Special reasons

It may also be possible to plead special reasons if you are caught driving no insurance. This is when you:

  • Held a genuine and honest belief that you were insured; and
  • It was reasonable for you to hold this belief

This is not the same as assuming that you were insured. Indeed, ignorance is not a defence. Rather, it is where you had a valid reason for thinking that you were insured, but actually you were not due to someone else’s mistake. This might be because:

  • You took out an insurance policy but the insurer accidentally cancelled it without your knowledge or consent.
  • Someone in a position of authority told you that you were insured and you had no reason not to believe them. This is most common where an employer or parent told you that you were insured and you accepted the information as true.

If special reasons apply, then you are still technically guilty of driving uninsured. Even so, the court may be persuaded to show leniency when sentencing you, on account of the exceptional circumstances.

Is ignorance a defence?

No, ignorance is not a defence. We often hear from people who say they would never knowingly drive without insurance, and that they only did so due to an oversight on their part. We absolutely understand – everyone makes mistakes. Unfortunately, however, this is not a defence in the eyes of the law.

But what if I was told I was insured?

If you were told that you were insured, then the situation is a little different. This is because you held a genuine and reasonable belief that you were insured. As it turns out, this information was incorrect – but you cannot have been expected to know that. Often in these cases, a friend, family member or employer has told an individual that they are insured to drive a vehicle. Or, the fault lies with the insurance company in some way, perhaps because they cancelled the policy without informing the policy-holder.

If this applies to your case, we strongly recommend that you ask our solicitors for help. You need to respond to the NIP saying that you were driving at the time of the incident, but that you want to reject the penalty points. A date will then be set for a court hearing. During this hearing, you must explain to the court that while you are technically guilty, there are mitigating circumstances that exonerate you from blame. The presentation of your case is key. Otherwise, the court may dismiss your story and find you guilty without special reasons.

At Ashmans Solicitors, we can present the necessary evidence and argue your case in court. Sometimes, it is even possible to persuade the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to drop the charges before the court hearing, if we can show that there was no criminal intent. We specialise in this area of the law and can help you further. It is very frustrating to be caught driving without car insurance through no fault of your own. We will do everything we can to help you.

Related: How do police catch banned drivers?

Get legal advice

Our driving without insurance solicitor can help if you have been accused of  driving a car without insurance, we can help. We are specialist motor defence solicitors and know how to handle such charges. We can assess your case and determine the best strategy, whether that is to accept the Fixed Penalty Notice, fight the charge or plead special reasons. Whatever we advise, we can then represent you for the duration of proceedings, working to get the best outcome on your behalf.

Are you facing no insurance charges? Contact us now for an initial enquiry. You can call us on 0333 009 6275. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. See our motoring defence fees page to find out more about our fixed fees.

You can also email us on enquiries@ashmanssolicitors.com or complete our Online Enquiry Form and we will contact you.