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Caught Driving Without Insurance?

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It is an offence to drive a motor vehicle without a certificate of insurance in place covering you to drive that vehicle on that occasion.

Driving without insurance is treated very seriously in the Magistrates Court because of the potential implications if you were to crash when uninsured.

To be found guilty of driving without insurance the Prosecution simply have to prove that you were driving a motor vehicle on a public road at the time of the alleged offence. Because this is a documentary offence the burden passes to the Defendant (you) to prove that you were actually insured at the time you were driving. This is because it would be almost impossible for the Prosecution to prove that you were not insured and they would have to go through every insurance company in the Country using their insurance database to try and establish there was no certificate in place.

Therefore a Defendant has to prove on the balance of probabilities that he was insured at the time of the alleged offence. This is unusual because most of the time in relation to road traffic law the Prosecution have to proof their case beyond reasonable doubt and the Defendant generally does not have to prove anything.

One of the things that catches most people out in relation to the no insurance offence is that you do not have to actually be driving the vehicle at the time of the alleged offence in order to be guilty. The offence is actually described as using the vehicle without insurance. Using a vehicle can mean "having use of " the vehicle .  This means that if the vehicle is parked up on a public road outside your home for example (even if it is broken down) the Court will still find that you had the potential use of the vehicle and therefore if it is uninsured they will find you guilty of using the vehicle without insurance.

Another way in which a lot of people get caught out in relation to insurance offences is because they believe that their fully comprehensive insurance covers them to drive a vehicle owned by another person with their permission. A lot of fully comprehensive insurance policies do not actually have this type of cover as of right. This element of the cover is also sometimes dependant on the age of the policy holder.

It is of paramount importance that you understand the terms of your insurance policy and you make sure each and every time you drive either your vehicle or someone else's that you are actually insured.

Legal Defences

There are very few defences to driving without insurance. The only real defence is to argue that either you were not driving or that you were insured. Driving under the mistaken belief that you were insured at the time of the alleged offence is not a defence! No insurance is a strict liability offence. This means that it does not matter whether or not you meant to commit the offence  - if, as a matter of fact, you did not have insurance in place at the time you were driving, then you are guilty. It is also a defence to be driving in the course of your employment and to be able to show the Court that your employer was responsible for insuring you and that you genuinely believed that there was proper insurance in place.

Special Reasons Arguments

It can sometimes be argued that, whilst you are technically guilty of the offence in question because you were uninsured at the time you were driving, you have Special Reasons in relation to the circumstances in which you were driving, namely that you were driving under the genuine misapprehension that you were insured at the time. If you successfully argue that there are Special Reasons then the Magistrates have a discretion not to impose penalty points. In order to argue Special Reasons you would need to support your argument by giving evidence on oath and it is preferable to provide documentary evidence to the Magistrates in order to support your argument.

You may be able to establish Special Reasons if you have been mislead by the insurance company or somebody else as to the nature of the cover in place and this lead you to believe that you were insured at the time you were driving. You might also be able to argue Special Reasons if the insurance company cancelled the policy without good reason and failed to notify you of that in advance of the offence.


No insurance is viewed very seriously by the Magistrates because of the implications of having an accident whilst uninsured. For this reason it carries a hefty penalty of 6 to 8 penalty points, a possible discretionary ban and a fine of up to £5,000 (again this is affected by how serious the offence is and your financial circumstances).

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