The offence of driving a motor vehicle without insurance is governed by Section 143 of The Road Traffic Act 1988. It is a summary only offence which means it can only be dealt with in the Magistrates’ Court and upon conviction an individual may expect to receive six to eight penalty points endorsed on their driving licence along with a financial penalty. Driving without insurance is also an offence than can be dealt with, by way of a fixed penalty from the police. This would consist of an offer from the police to pay a £300.00 fine and accept six penalty points rather than go through the Magistrates’ Court.
Driving when having no insurance is often referred to as a strict liability offence. In simple terms this means there is no defence to the offence. Essentially it is very simple, a person is either insured to drive the vehicle or they are not. However one defence is available to an individual who faces prosecution for such a matter. The defence is contained within Section 143 (3) of The Road Traffic Act 1988. It is contained under this subsection that a person who meets the following criteria will have a full defence to driving without insurance, said criteria is:
- They were driving in the course of their employment:
- The vehicle being driven was owned by their employer: and
- Their employer had told them that they were indeed insured to drive the vehicle.
If the Court are satisfied that the above circumstances are present this would afford anyone facing prosecution with a defence. Thus, if this defence is successfully put forward the endorsement of penalty points can be avoided altogether.
Avoiding six – eight penalty points can often be very important to a person. For example, anyone having passed their driving test has a probationary period attached to their driving licence. If six or more points are obtained during this time frame, then a driving licence will be revoked, and that person would need to retake their driving test. Often the booking and completion of a driving test can take many months. Therefore if the penalty points may be avoided due to a defence under statute it is most certainly worthwhile pursuing this course of action.