Recent changes in motoring legislation have caused a bit of confusion amongst UK drivers, and the Motor Insurance Bureau is seeking to clear them up.
In order to confront the problem of uninsured motorists in the UK, the bureau collaborated with the motor insurance industry to create a comprehensive database for insured drivers. In order to reduce the amount of motorists on the road that are uninsured or underinsured, a law enacted earlier this year requires registered vehicle owners with off road vehicles to obtain a Statutory Off Road Notification (or, ‘SORN’) from the DVLA (more info here).
Without this notification, your vehicle is in violation of UK motorist laws pertaining to insurance, even if you never use your vehicle or use it rarely. The purpose of this new SORN legislation is to cut down on the additional expenses that insured motorists bear due to uninsured drivers. It has been estimated that drivers in compliance with insurance laws pay an extra £500 million annually to make up for the costs that uninsured motorists cannot pay. By making it obligatory to declare a vehicle off-road or pay insurance on it, both the Motor Insurance Bureau and insurance providers hope to reduce the frequency of car accidents involving uninsured drivers.
How can I avoid violating the new motoring legislation?
If you would like to declare your vehicle SORN, you must give your tax disc back to the DVLA and fill out an application to take your vehicle off the road. Once processed, this will effectively mean that your vehicle is neither insured nor taxed. The process is free of charge, and the SORN lasts for a year, after which you will be responsible for renewing your vehicle’s SORN status.
The most common way to avoid violation is to keep your vehicle insured and obtain a vehicle excise license tax disc, which must be displayed prominently on your vehicle. While these requirements are fairly simple for most drivers, there are a few exceptions.
If you own a mobile home or an automobile that is only used for several months out of the year, you must declare it SORN for the time period during which it is not in use. Owners of vintage cars, though they maintain a ‘nil value’ tax disc, must also comply with the new SORN laws to make sure that they are not in violation.
If your automobile has not been in use since before the SORN was initially enacted in 1998, you will not have to obtain a notification. However, if you wish to bring your vehicle back on the road in the future, the new law will apply to you and your vehicle.
The new changes in legislation will affect residents of England, Scotland and Wales. Drivers in Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands will remain unaffected.
What is the penalty for violating the law?
If you are the owner of a DVLA Registration vehicle (https://www.carreg.co.uk/dvla-number-plates/dvla-registrations/) that is taxed but not insured or not declared off road, you will pay an automatic penalty totalling £100 and be subjected to fines that could amount to £1,000. You could also be prosecuted in court, depending on the circumstance.
It is important to remember that the responsibility of maintaining sufficient insurance or an off road notification lies with the registered owner of the vehicle. This means that even if the vehicle is in use by someone else, the person who has registered it will be subjected to these penalties in the case of violation.