Driving without insurance is an entirely reckless thing to do, but figures gleaned from the DVLA reveal more than 200,000 people are at it.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) reports that there are 226,803 drivers in the UK with points on their licence for driving uninsured, which is around one in 200.
In the 17-35 age range the figure is one in 100.
As the IAM points out, this could be just the tip of the iceberg; the figures they received under a Freedom of Information request only represent the drivers who have been caught and penalised.
Possessing no insurance carries an endorsement of penalty points in the range of six to eight and, in addition, magistrates have a discretionary power to disqualify.
However, there are arguments that can be put to a court, known as ‘special reasons’, which have been found for not endorsing a licence in respect of insurance offences.
Ignorance of the limited cover provided by an insurance policy is not normally grounds for escaping endorsement, but courts have found special reasons where there is a belief in the existence of insurance cover and a particular explanation for ignorance of the lack of it.
An example would be a child who had relied on a parent to arrange cover, or a subordinate who was relying on a person in authority.
Another example would be a garage proprietor who applied for full cover but was then issued with a named driver policy without the difference being pointed out.
A problem could then emerge when a haulage operator agrees for the proprietor to drive its lorry to his garage premises for repair, believing in good faith that the owner was covered by the insurance.
In fact, numerous examples of cases exist in which a court has held that the driver was misled into committing the offence, and the circumstances have amounted to a special reason.
The law places the burden of proving there was insurance cover on the defendant and he or she is required to produce a certificate to demonstrate they were insured.
If it can be shown that, on the face of it, there was a valid policy or certificate covering the use in question then the burden of proof shifts to the prosecution to prove that the policy did not cover the use of the vehicle on that particular occasion.
But for those choosing not to buy insurance then the consequences are far more costly: a conviction, points and hefty fines, not to mention the effect on everyone else’s premiums.
For further information contact Anton Balkitis or Lucy Wood on 0800 088 6153 or visit the website if you are looking for motoring solicitors.