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How Long Do The Police Have To Prosecute For No Insurance?

In the UK, the police have up to 6 months from the date on which the prosecutor was given sufficient evidence of the offence of driving no insurance in which to prosecute the offender. This is different to other driving offences where it’s usually 6 months from the date of the summary offence.

You can find out when this came to the attention of the prosecutor because under Section 6(3) the prosecutor will provide a dated certificate confirming this information. If no date is provided, then proceedings will be terminated as seen in the case of David Burwell v DPP [2009].

This time limit for prosecution may be extended in certain circumstances, such as if the police were unable to identify the driver at the time of the alleged offence or if there was a delay in receiving evidence.

Caddick Davies Can Help

If you have been charged with the alleged offence of driving without insurance, the team at Caddick Davies Solicitors can help.

We are a motoring law specialist firm whose solicitors can give honest advice and guidance to help you to secure the most successful outcome possible when facing driving charges as well as identity and successfully argue your defence / special reasons argument in court proceedings. As we only deal with motoring law cases day in and day out, if you have a defence, we will find it.

Call our expert team today: 0151 944 4967

Read on for more information about the offence of driving without insurance, including how a specialist motoring offence solicitor can help, penalties involved, what you need to know if you’ve been charged, and the possible defences that can be used to reduce or remove the sentencing you may be facing. 

What Is The Offence Of Driving Without Insurance?

Section 143(a) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 states that it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle on a public road or other public area unless the vehicle is covered by an insurance policy that meets the requirements outlined in this part of the Act.

This means that drivers have a legal obligation to hold a valid third-party insurance policy specifically for the vehicle being driven, and that it is appropriate for the intended use.

Further reading: Driving without insurance

Scenarios Where People Find Themselves Uninsured

Scenarios Where People Find Themselves Uninsured

There are a number of scenarios where people may find themselves driving uninsured:

  1. Letting an insurance policy lapse: If a person forgets to renew their insurance policy or fails to make a payment, their insurance coverage may lapse, leaving them uninsured.
  2. Driving for business on the wrong type of policy: If you are driving for business purposes, for example delivering food then the law requires that you have business insurance. A social, domestic and pleasure policy will not cover you to drive for this purpose and as a result if stopped and you do not have this extension then you will be guilty of an offence of driving without insurance.
  3. Driving a friend’s or family member’s car: If a person borrows a car from a friend or family member and is not added to the policy as a named driver, they may not be covered by the insurance policy.Even if you have a fully comprehensive insurance policy, then this does not automatically allow you to drive other vehicles. You are required to have an extension on the policy which enables you to drive other vehicles.NB: There is a common belief that if you and the owner of another vehicle are over the age of 25 years old and both have comprehensive insurance policies then you can drive each other’s vehicles. This is a myth! This is not true.
  4. Using a company car: If an employee uses a company car for personal use and the company does not have the proper insurance coverage for personal use, the employee may be driving uninsured.
  5. Buying a new car and not transferring insurance: If a person buys a new car and does not transfer their existing insurance policy or purchase a new policy, they may be driving uninsured.
  6. Not declaring relevant information: If a person fails to disclose relevant information to their insurer, such as previous driving convictions or a medical condition that could impact their driving, their insurance policy may be voided, leaving them uninsured.

It’s important to note that driving without insurance is illegal and can result in fines, penalty points on the driver’s license, and even disqualification from driving.

Section 6 Of The Road Traffic Act & Driving Without Insurance

When it comes to prosecuting drivers for driving without insurance, Section 6 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 applies. It states proceedings may be brought within a period of six months from the date on which evidence sufficient in the opinion of the prosecutor to warrant the proceedings came to his knowledge. This does however have a time limitation of three years.

  • Section 6 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 is a provision that sets out the duty of the driver of a motor vehicle to provide information about the identity of the driver in certain circumstances.
  • Specifically, Section 6 requires the registered keeper of a vehicle, upon receiving a notice from the police alleging that an offence was committed with the vehicle and the driver’s identity is unknown, to provide information as to the identity of the driver at the time of the alleged offence.
  • This section is often used by the police to investigate and prosecute offences such as speeding, driving without insurance, and other traffic offences. Failure to comply with Section 6 can result in criminal charges and penalties, including fines and points on the driver’s licence.

What Is The Sentence For Driving Without Insurance?

The below table provides guidelines as well as the starting point that the magistrates will consider when imposing a sentence for the offence of driving without insurance.

Level of seriousness Starting point Range Disqualification / points Determination of category
Category 1 Band C fine Band C fine Disqualify 6 – 12 months Higher culpability and greater harm
Category 2 Band C fine Band C fine Consider disqualification for up to 6 months OR 8 points Higher culpability and lesser harm or lower culpability and greater harm
Category 3 Band C fine Band B fine – Band C fine 6 – 8 penalty points Lower culpability and lesser harm

You may be wondering how the courts determine higher culpability and greater harm. The factors taken into consideration are as follows:

Factors indicating higher harm include:

  • Involved in an accident where injury caused.
  • Involved in an accident where damage was caused.

Factors indicating higher culpability:

  • Never passed test
  • Gave false details
  • Driving LGV, HGV, PSV etc
  • Driving for hire or reward
  • Evidence of sustained uninsured use

Where there are no aggravating features then the police will usually send an offer of fixed penalty which consists of 6 penalty points and a £300.00 fine. If you accept that you are guilty of this offence and seek to have matters concluded, then a fixed penalty notice is the minimum sentence that you will receive.

Penalties For New Drivers Caught Driving Without Insurance

Motorists who are facing 6 penalty points within their first two years of driving are usually very concerned. This is due to the fact that upon receiving 6 penalty points then your licence will be revoked immediately under Section 5 of the New Drivers Act 1996.

Who Is Classed As A ‘New Driver’?

A new driver is a person who has passed their test within 2 years. If a new driver accumulates 6 penalty points on their driving licence within the first two years of driving, then this will result in the revocation of their licence pursuant to Section 5 of the New Drivers Act 1996.

Understandably if you are at risk of 6 penalty points on your licence then you will be concerned about the revocation, especially if driving is pivotal in day-to-day life. Given the current backlogs as a result of Covid – 19 in booking for theory and practical driving lessons then this could mean a prolonged period of 9 – 12 months off the road which is not proportionate to the offence committed.

Further Reading: New driver motoring offences

Avoiding Licence Revocation For New Drivers

Avoiding Licence Revocation For New Drivers

In accordance with Part 25 of the Magistrates’ Court Sentencing Guidelines: ‘An offender liable for an endorsement which will cause the licence to be revoked under the new drivers’ provisions may ask the court to disqualify rather than impose points. This will avoid the requirement to take a further test.

Generally, this would be inappropriate since it would circumvent the clear intention of Parliament.’ However, taking into consideration parliament’s intention Wilkinson’s Road Traffic Offences provides that ‘the aim of the measure is to protect the public from incompetent new, though not necessarily young, drivers.’

If you are guilty of driving without insurance, then this does not necessarily make you an incompetent new driver. This event may have occurred owing to the fact that you were given assurances by a third party or further that there was an administrative error which meant the money was not taken out.

If this is the case, then we can make representations to the court to impose a short-term discretionary disqualification in order to avoid the imposition of points. This is an argument which we had made successfully before the court on numerous occasions.

Can I Be Offered A Course For Driving Without Insurance?

Currently there is no course available for driving without insurance. Courses are currently only offered subject to requirements on the following offences:

  • Speeding contrary to Section 89 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.
  • Driving without due care and attention contrary to Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.
  • Contravening a traffic signal contrary to Section 36 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

Do I Need To Receive A Notice Of Prosecution For Driving Without Insurance?

Usually, with driving offences you will receive a notice of intended prosecution requesting the details of the driver at the time. To be caught driving without insurance then this involves being pulled over by a police officer and the insurance on the vehicle being checked. Details are therefore provided at the roadside. As a result of this the police do not need to send you a notice of intended prosecution.

I Have A Valid Insurance Policy Which Covers Me To Drive, What Do I Do?

If you have received a fixed penalty offer or single justice procedure notice yet at the time of the alleged offence held a valid insurance policy, then the responsibility is upon you to prove that this is the case. You may need to do this if you know that you can prove that you are correctly insured, but the police are adamant that you’re not. It may be that the police have simply been unable to locate the policy or that you are covered to drive under a motor traders’ insurance or that you are covered on a third-party basis on a different policy.

How Can I Prove That I Have Valid Insurance To Drive?

How Can I Prove That I Have Valid Insurance To Drive

There are several ways you can prove that you have valid insurance to drive at the time the alleged offence was committed:

  1. Insurance certificate: Your insurance provider will send you a certificate of insurance when you purchase a policy. This certificate provides proof of your insurance coverage and should be kept with you when driving.
  2. Digital insurance card: Some insurance providers now offer a digital insurance card that can be stored on your smartphone or mobile device. This card can be used as proof of insurance coverage during a traffic stop.
  3. Insurance database: In some countries, there are databases that can be used to check if a vehicle is insured. If you are stopped by the police, they may be able to use this database to confirm that you have valid insurance coverage.
  4. Contacting your insurance provider: If you are unable to provide proof of insurance coverage during a traffic stop, you can contact your insurance provider and ask them to fax or email proof of insurance to the police.

It’s important to always carry proof of insurance coverage with you when driving. If you are unable to provide proof of insurance when requested by police, you may be penalised.

Contact our legal experts today

Frequently Asked Questions About Driving Without Insurance

Can I defend a charge of driving without insurance?

There are very few defences to a charge of driving without insurance owing to the fact that this offence is a strict liability offence. What does strict liability mean? Strict liability means that even if you had no intention to commit the offence or that you were unaware of the offence in the first place if you have factually driven without a valid policy of insurance then you are technically guilty.

Defences to driving without insurance

Driving without insurance is a criminal offence and can result in serious penalties but there are a few defences that may be able to be used in certain circumstances:

  • Employer’s defence – It is a defence if you can prove that you were driving a vehicle that did not belong to you in the course of your employment and you held a belief that you were covered to drive.
  • Letter of indemnity – Owing to an administrative error on the insurance company’s behalf this may have left you uninsured. If this is the case, then you can ask the company to provide a letter of indemnity which states that you would have been covered to drive if you were in an accident despite their error. This can lead to a discontinuance of proceedings if this letter is provided to them.

I don’t have a defence, but I genuinely believed I was insured to drive, is there anything that I can do?

Owing to the strict liability of driving without insurance offences, you may be wondering whether the court will take into consideration the circumstances that led to the offence. You may feel the legal position concerning strict liability is harsh. Despite the lack of defences for this offence, there is a mechanism by which the court may choose not to endorse your driving licence as a result of this matter when considering extenuating circumstances, pursuant to Section 44 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988, if there are ‘special reasons’ for doing so.

An application for special reasons is seeking to invite the court to exercise its discretion not to endorse your driving licence with penalty points owing to the extenuating circumstances surrounding the offence.

The legal basis for the application is derived from Section 34 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 and the case of R v Wickens (1958) 42 CR App Rep 236, which provides four requirements:

  1.  It must be a mitigating or extenuating circumstance;
  2.  It must not amount to a defence in law;
  3.  It must be directly connected with the commission of the offence; and
  4.  The matter must be one which the court ought properly to take into consideration when imposing punishment.

This application is commonly presented where a person holds a genuine and honest belief that that they were insured to drive, and this belief the insurance company was reasonable. This principle arises from the case of Rennison v Knowler [1947].

Common scenarios where this may arise:

  1. A parent provides an assurance to their son / daughter that they are insured to drive as they have arranged the insurance policy on their behalf. As seen by the case of Marshall v McLeod (1998) when the permitter had a genuine and honest belief that the driver would be covered based on information by his own parents then this can amount to special reasons.
  2.  You miss a payment by mistake owing to obtaining a new card and you do not receive the notification that your policy has been cancelled.
  3.  You have failed to send over proof of no claims bonus and not received notification that your policy has been cancelled.

These scenarios are only examples of special reasons and is not a restrictive list. Due to the discretionary nature of special reasons each application is looked at on a case-by-case nature as the sole basis for this argument is moral culpability. If you feel that there are extenuating or mitigating circumstances which led to the offence occurring, then please contact us to discuss a special reasons argument in order for us to advise.

Someone Without Insurance Drove My Car, Can I Be Prosecuted?

If a person causes or allows a person to drive their vehicle with no insurance, then that person may themselves be summoned to court for “causing or permitting” a person to drive with no insurance. This offence attracts the same sentence as if they themselves were driving without insurance.

Similar to driving without insurance there are few defences, these include :

  • The person who drove the vehicle at the time did in fact have an insurance policy which covered them to drive. This can be proven by presenting this policy to the police.
  • The owner gave permission for use of the vehicle on the condition that the driver had a policy of their own which covered them to drive it before they drove.
  • The owner did not provide permission for the driver to use the vehicle.


In the UK, the police have up to 6 months from the date on which the prosecutor was given sufficient evidence of the offence of driving without insurance in which to prosecute the offender but certain circumstances may extend the time limit for prosecution. This is different to other driving offences where it’s usually 6 months from the date of the summary offence.

Driving without insurance is considered a serious offence and can lead to significant penalties, such as fines, penalty points, and even disqualification from driving. It is crucial to have valid insurance coverage when driving and to be able to provide proof of coverage when requested by law enforcement.

Our leading team of motoring offence solicitors at Caddick Davies have a reputation for success when it comes to defending motorists charged with driving offences. We work with clients all over the UK and are rated in the top 20 law firms on TrustPilot. For efficient and effective legal advice for motoring offences, please get in touch to discuss your case with our friendly team today.

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

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