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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 .
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are a number of scenarios where people may find themselves driving 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.
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.
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:
Factors indicating higher culpability:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Currently there is no course available for driving without insurance. Courses are currently only offered subject to requirements on the following offences:
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.
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.
There are several ways you can prove that you have valid insurance to drive at the time the alleged offence was committed:
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.
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.
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:
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:
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 .
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.
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 :
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.
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