Call now for a FREE Consultation

Caught driving without an MOT in the UK

Caught driving without an MOT in the UK

Driving with a valid MOT is both a legal obligation and a safety precaution when driving on UK roads. Driving without a valid MOT is often unintentional and can easily happen. However, the law is the law, and being caught can have serious consequences.

If you are unsure if your car has a valid MOT or when it expires, you should check your status on the government website. It might seem like driving without a valid MOT is not a very serious offence, however, the penalties can be substantial. Plus, driving a potentially dangerous vehicle puts yourself and other road users at risk.

This article will discuss all you need to know about MOTs and answer some of the questions that you might have. 

Caught driving without an MOT? We can help

Send us a message or call us on 0333 443 2366 for friendly advice

What is an MOT?

An MOT is a mandatory inspection that checks whether your vehicle meets all the road safety and environmental standards. An MOT typically takes 45 minutes to an hour to complete and will determine if your car complies with all the standards.

The MOT test includes checking the overall car structure, engine, brakes, lights, steering, wheels and tyres, safety belts, etc. It will also check emissions.

Common causes for MOT failure include blown bulbs, tyre tread depths, brake faults, defective windscreen wipers or cracked windscreens.

When do I need an MOT?

Section 47 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 states that all vehicles must have test certificates from the third anniversary of registration. It is assumed that new cars will be in a safe condition.

When the car is over three years old, you must renew your MOT annually.

A vehicle that can carry eight passengers, licensed taxis and ambulances must be tested on the first anniversary of registration and renewed annually.

If you buy a second-hand vehicle, you should check its MOT history. You can do so on the government website. You check the following:

  • if the car passed or failed previous tests;
  • the mileage at the last test;
  • where the test was done;
  • what parts, if any, failed or had minor defects; and
  • the next MOT renewal date.

Vehicles that don’t need an MOT


You do not need to get an MOT if:

  • The vehicle was built or first registered more than 40 years ago.
  • No ‘substantial changes’ have been made to the vehicle in the last 30 years, for example, replacing the chassis, body, axles, or engine to change how the car works.

You still need to ensure that the vehicle is in a safe and roadworthy condition. You can be fined and get penalty points if the car is in a dangerous condition.

Caught driving without an MOT? We can help

Send us a message or call us on 0333 443 2366 for friendly advice

How do you get caught driving without an MOT?

All MOT test results are recorded on the DVLA’s database. Anyone who has the vehicle’s registration number can access the database.

Police cars have Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras that scan registration plates and check them against the database. In addition, ANPR cameras are placed on roads and in car parks.

What are the penalties if you get caught driving without a valid MOT in the UK?

If caught without a valid MOT, you could be fined up to £1,000. If your vehicle has failed an MOT due to a dangerous condition, you could end up with a fine of £2,500, 3 penalty points on your licence, and a driving ban.

Driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition

Section 40A of the Road Traffic Act makes it an offence to drive a vehicle if the vehicle’s condition is such that it poses a danger of injury to any person. Driving a car that failed an MOT due to a dangerous condition could open you up for a conviction under sec 40A.

The starting point sentence is 3 penalty points and a maximum fine of £2,500. If it is your second offence within three years, you could face a mandatory 6-month disqualification.

When is a car in a dangerous condition?

Generally, a car is deemed dangerous if it poses an immediate risk to road safety or has a serious environmental impact.

Is there a grace period for driving without an MOT?

There is no grace period. The certificate is issued once a year and must be renewed on time. If your MOT expires, it is immediately illegal to drive on the roads.

What is the earliest date I can renew my MOT?

If you want to keep your same anniversary date, you can renew your MOT up to a month (minus a day) before your current MOT expires. You will then keep the same renewal date every year.

You can apply earlier if you don’t mind a different renewal date. If you do the MOT more than a month before the expiry date, your renewal date will change to one year from the date the vehicle passed the new MOT.

Are there any circumstances when you can drive without an MOT?

no MOT stopped by police

Generally, you cannot drive if your MOT has expired. There are two exceptions.

  1. You can drive to the test centre if you have a pre-booked MOT appointment for a retest.

Make sure to book your appointment before your current MOT certificate expires to avoid getting a fine. As said above, there is no grace period. If your current certificate has expired, make sure to carry proof of your appointment with you and travel the shortest route possible to the testing centre. You may be fined if you don’t have proof or are stopped way off the route to the testing centre.

  1. You can drive if you are going to a garage for repairs pointed out in your MOT inspection. Again, you must be able to show proof of your appointment and take the shortest route.

However, if your car has a dangerous defect, you cannot drive anywhere.

What if my previous MOT certificate is still valid?

Suppose your vehicle fails the MOT, but your previous MOT certificate is still valid. In that case, you can continue driving for the validity period if no dangerous defects were discovered.

What happens if I fail the MOT, can I drive away?

Whether you can drive away depends on the faults.

If your vehicle fails the MOT, you will receive a refusal of an MOT test certificate. The certificate will set out the reasons. If there are dangerous problems, you cannot drive away until the faults are repaired, regardless of whether your previous MOT is still valid.

If no dangerous defects are found, and your previous certificate is still valid, you can drive away.

Not every problem means the vehicle fails. If there are only minor issues, the centre will give you a list that must be attended to, but you can still drive.

Can I appeal an MOT test if I think the result is wrong?

Yes, if your vehicle failed the test, you could appeal to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) within 14 days of the test. A date will be arranged if the DVSA decides your vehicle needs to be retested. You will need to pay the test fee again, but you’ll get some or all of it back if your appeal is successful.

Wait to have your vehicle repaired whilst waiting for the DVSA to consider your appeal. Any changes to your vehicle can affect the outcome of your appeal.

Can I park my car on the road if it failed an MOT? 

Yes, if your current MOT has not expired and the vehicle is not dangerous.

However, if your MOT has expired, you cannot park your car on the road without a valid MOT. You must park your vehicle on private property or in a garage until your MOT is renewed.

Caught driving without an MOT? We can help

Send us a message or call us on 0333 443 2366 for friendly advice

What happens to my car insurance if my car fails an MOT? 

Depending on your insurance policy, your car insurance may no longer be valid when your MOT expires, or your vehicle fails the test. If you are in a motor vehicle accident, you may have to pay for your own damage expenses, and the other driver’s damages and injuries.

What are the penalties for driving without insurance?

Driving without valid insurance is an offence. Penalties for driving without insurance include 6 to 8 points on your licence. If your matter ends up in court, the court can impose an unlimited fine or a driving ban. The police also have the power to impound your vehicle.

What if my car is subject to SORN? 

If you want to get your car back on the road after a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN), you should get car insurance to drive to the garage. Check with your insurer to make sure you’re covered to drive to the MOT testing station when your vehicle has no MOT or valid car tax in force.

Start by making an MOT appointment. You need an appointment to legally drive to the test centre or garage. Once you have fixed any issues, you can get your vehicle retested. When you have your MOT certificate, you can get your vehicle taxed and back on the road.

How can I avoid missing my MOT renewal test? 

You can check your MOT status online through the government’s MOT Checker. You need to enter your vehicle’s registration number.

You can also sign up for a free MOT reminder via text or email.

How can I avoid an MOT penalty? 

The obvious way is to renew your MOT on time and avoid driving an unroadworthy car. Life, however, is not always that simple. If you are worried about failing your MOT, make alternative travel plans to get you from the test centre, or be prepared to carry out essential repairs straight away.

What happens if I lose or damage my valid MOT certificate? 

You can get a free replacement certificate online on the government’s website. You’ll need your vehicle registration number and your 11-digit number from your vehicle logbook.

Can I report someone who is driving a vehicle without a valid MOT? 

Yes, if you are concerned about the roadworthiness or safety of a vehicle on the road and know it does not have a valid MOT, you can report it to the police.

You can report it online or call 101 if you want to remain anonymous.

You will need the vehicle’s registration number, make, model and location.

What can be done if I’m caught driving without a valid MOT? 

Driving without a valid MOT is a criminal offence under section 47. If you’re caught driving without a valid MOT, you should act fast. You may have mitigating circumstances that you haven’t explained to the police adequately, or your vehicle might fall into one of the exemption categories. Sometimes the police make mistakes!

Driving your vehicle to a testing centre is a valid defence. Maybe you couldn’t prove your appointment when stopped by the police?

Since you might also face a charge of driving a car in a dangerous condition, it is essential to get expert advice as soon as possible. If we can prove that the vehicle was not in a dangerous condition or that driving the car did not involve a danger of injury to a person, you might be able avoid the penalties.


Once your MOT expires or you fail the test, driving your vehicle on the road is illegal; getting caught can have serious consequences. Don’t put off getting your MOT renewed.

Caught driving without an MOT? We can help

Send us a message or call us on 0333 443 2366 for friendly advice

Motoring Lawyer at Caddick Davies Solicitors
Caddick Davies is recognised as one of England and Wales’ leading motoring law firms, offering specialist Speeding Solicitors, Drink Driving Solicitors & Dangerous Driving Solicitors.We provide advice and representation on all motoring offences including speeding, the avoidance of disqualification on penalty points or “totting up” (exceptional hardship), driving without due care and attention (careless driving), dangerous driving, drink driving, as well as a range of services related to medical revocation of a driving licence.
Neil Davies
Latest posts by Neil Davies (see all)

Make an Enquiry

Call Us on 03334 432 366 or enter your details below:

    Your data is secure

    Why Choose Us

    • Ranked in the top 20 law firms by Trustpilot
    • Nationwide Legal Coverage
    • Free Consultation
    • Fixed Fee Terms
    • Competitive Rates
    • Flexible Payment Plans
    • Trusted Legal Care
    • UK’s Leading Motoring Solicitors

    We have been successfully representing clients in motoring courts nationwide

    Contact us for a free consultation, our expert solicitors will be able to discuss your case and advise on legal options.


    Request free consultation
    UK Map