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Driving without insurance - Can I avoid penalty points?

3 January 2022
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After being pulled over by a police patrol car and told you don't have any, or simply the correct insurance, a prosecution can follow, as well as a fine, 6-8 penalty points, or even a disqualification.

But what if the insurance company have cancelled your policy by mistake? What if they have not informed you that the policy has been cancelled? Sometimes drivers are at the wheel because a friend or associate has told them they are insured. In these situations, the court can sometimes use the principle of 'special reasons' to not punish the motorist. Persuading the court to take this route is not always easy, and representation from specialist driving without insurance solicitors is absolutely necessary if the licence is important.

‘Special Reasons' in Driving Without Insurance Cases - The Law Explained

Driving without insurance is the common term for the offence of ' driving a motor vehicle without a policy of insurance or security against third party risks in force' (section 143 of the Road Traffic Act 1988). This includes both driving and permitting someone else to drive the vehicle.

Specialist driving without insurance solicitors will tell you that a successful application of special reasons in insurance cases allows the court to use its discretion to not impose the mandatory sentence, which is 6-8 penalty points or a disqualification. It is not easy to persuade the court who will need to be satisfied that the special reason is directly connected with the offence, not just the client's personal situation (so 'I will lose my job if I lose my licence' is not a special reason). It also needs to be something that the court should take into consideration when sentencing.

This can mean that, even if someone is technically guilty of driving without insurance, there may be circumstances behind the offence that allow the court to find someone guilty without punishing them.

Examples include (but are not necessarily limited to):

  • cancellation of the policy by the insurance company without telling the policy-holder

  • a mistake made by to an insurance company that has resulted in no policy being in force

  • a person being informed by the owner of a vehicle or policyholder that she can drive the vehicle legally

  • a person having a genuine reason to believe he or she is insured, even if the person is not

So, to summarise, a special reason must:

  • Relate to the reason the offence took place, and not be about the personal situation of the individual;

  • Not amount to a legal defence, but should be a good reason why someone should not receive the mandatory sentence.

Pre court intervention

In some cases, it is possible for specialist driving without insurance solicitors to intervene when a client receives the Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP). There are specialist teams within police forces who deal with pre-charge motoring offences. Should there have been a genuine error on the part of the police/insurance company it is sometimes possible for the driving without insurance solicitors to engage with them early to see if a trip to court can be avoided altogether.

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