Experts in Motoring and Road Traffic Law
Road Traffic Law Solicitors
Driving without a valid licence or insurance is a serious offence under the Road Traffic Act 1988 (RTA 1988). Our expert Road Traffic law solicitors can advise and represent you if you wish to defend a charge of driving without a licence or insurance or can assist you to mitigate the penalty if no defence is available.
At MPR Solicitors, we practice almost exclusively in criminal and traffic law. Our lawyers have a wealth of specialist experience in UK motoring law and can act rapidly to create a defence. By instructing us, you can be assured of receiving expert legal advice and vigorous representation.
To contact our driving without a licence or insurance solicitors, please call us on 020 3824 8080 to make an appointment.
We are dedicated to providing exceptional client care and quality legal guidance to all clients who instruct us. We have a dedicated team of lawyers specialising in driving without a licence or insurance, based in London, but we advise and represent clients from all over the UK.
What happens if I am caught driving without a licence?
You must have a driver’s licence that is appropriate for the class of vehicle you are driving. For example, just because you have a licence to drive a car, that licence does not allow you to drive a HGV lawfully. In addition, it is unlawful to drive a vehicle on a provisional licence unless the driver is accompanied in the car by a full licence holder aged 21 or over, who has held their licence for at least three years. 'L' plates must also be exhibited on the vehicle used in such situations.
Most police cars in the UK are fitted with automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) systems which tell if a vehicle is insured, taxed and if it holds a current MOT. Therefore, if you are driving on a public road, especially in a city, there is a good chance you will be stopped if an ANPR detects any discrepancy.
If the police do stop you (and they are entitled to do so for any reason under section 163 of the Road Traffic Act 1988), they can ask you for your driver’s licence.
If you do not have your driver’s licence on you, you will have seven days to present it at a police station.
If you do not have a valid driver’s licence, you can be given a fine of up to £1,000 and three to six penalty points.
Driving without a valid licence is a separate offence to driving while disqualified, which is deemed much more serious.
Driving without a licence is an ‘absolute’ offence; therefore, there is no excuse. However, that does not mean defences are not available. For example, if you can show it was not you driving the car at the time of the alleged contravention, you may be able to escape the fine/penalty points. It is also possible to mitigate the sentence, for example, if you have been seriously unwell at the time your licence lapsed and been unaware it was no longer valid, or if your employer assured you that your licence was valid for the type of vehicle they instructed you to operate.
If you have been caught driving without a valid licence, we can provide solid legal advice on whether you have a defence or mitigating circumstances available to you and, if you do, represent you in court.
What is the penalty for being caught driving without insurance?
Like being caught driving without a valid licence, driving without insurance is an ‘absolute’ offence. Under the Road Traffic Act 1988, it is an offence to drive, or cause another to drive, a motor vehicle that does not have valid insurance.
The police can issue a Fixed-Penalty Notice (FPN) of £300 and six penalty points if you are caught driving a vehicle you are not insured to drive. If you go to court, the penalty may be an unlimited fine and disqualification from driving. Police are also entitled to impound and destroy uninsured vehicles.
Are there any defences for driving without insurance?
Because driving without insurance is an ‘absolute’ offence, it is no excuse to say you did not realise the vehicle you were driving did not have valid insurance.
In a charge of driving without insurance, the defendant is guilty until he/she can prove their innocence. Therefore, if you know you had valid insurance at the time of the alleged offence, you will have seven days to provide evidence.
Under the Road Traffic Act, section 143(3), there is a limited defence available for those driving company vehicles.
An employee will not be guilty of this offence if they can show:
- that they neither knew nor had reason to believe that the vehicle was uninsured
- the vehicle did not belong to the employee and was not in their possession under a contract of hiring or loan, and
- the employee was using the vehicle for work purposes
If you believe one of these defences applies to you, contact one of our Road Traffic law solicitors who can assist you with creating and presenting your case.
Can the sentence for driving without insurance be mitigated?
Even if you plead guilty to a charge of driving without insurance, you can plead ‘special reasons’ which, if accepted by the court, can mitigate the sentence you receive.
Examples of ‘special reasons’ include:
- if your insurer changed the criteria for your renewal and failed to tell you
- if your insurer informed you that they had registered your policy but failed to include it in their system
- there was a genuine emergency, and you had no choice but to drive an uninsured vehicle
If you plan to use ‘special reasons’ to mitigate the penalty, it is imperative you contact us. The courts have made clear that a belief, however honestly held, that valid insurance was in place, will not amount to ‘special reasons’ unless that belief was based on reasonable grounds (DPP v Robson DPP  All ER (D) 69 (Jun)). We understand the complexity of arguing ‘special reasons’ and have the knowledge and experience required to create and present a compelling case to the court.
If you have been accused of driving without a licence or insurance, please call us immediately on 020 3824 8080 or fill in our contact form to get in touch.