Permitting No Insurance, Driving Without Insurance?
It is an offence to drive a motor vehicle without a valid certificate of insurance in place that covers you to drive that vehicle on that particular occasion.
Caught Without Insurance
The Magistrates Court treats driving without insurance very seriously because of the implications were you to have an uninsured accident.
In order for you to be found guilty of driving without insurance, all the prosecution need to prove is that you were driving a motor vehicle and were on a public road at the time of the alleged offence.
The burden of proof passes to the Defendant (you) to prove that you were insured at the time you were driving because this is a documentary offence and you are expected to be able to make your insurance documentation available.
It would be virtually impossible for the prosecution to prove that you were not insured, as they would have to contact every insurance provider in the country and use their insurance database in order to establish that there was no insurance in place.
Driving With No Insurance
It is therefore up to the defendant to prove on the balance of probabilities that at the time of the alleged offence they were insured.
The offence of not having insurance is one of the only road traffic offences where the defendant has to prove anything, it is more normal for the prosecution to have to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt with the Defendant not being required to prove anything.
One point that tends to catch out many people with respect to insurance related offences is that it isn’t necessary for you to be driving the vehicle at the time of the offence to be guilty of the offence.
The actual offence is ‘Using a Vehicle without Insurance”, where ‘using’ can mean “having use of” the vehicle.
Many people get caught out with the belief that their fully comprehensive insurance covers them to drive another vehicle owned by someone else, with their permission.
Lots of fully comprehensive policies don’t provide this type of cover automatically. This cover can also be dependent on the age of the policy holder and the vehicle being driven.
It goes without saying that you should read your insurance policy carefully so that you understand any restrictions that may apply, so that you can be sure that every time you drive your vehicle or someone else’s that you are properly insured.
Defences for No Insurance
There are not very many legal defences for driving without insurance. The one real defence is to either argue that you were not driving at the time, or that you were insured.
It is not a valid defence to ‘believe that you were insured’ at the time of the offence.
No Insurance is a strict liability offence.
This means that whether you meant to commit the offence or whether it was an oversight on your part – if you did not have valid insurance at the time of the offence, you are guilty.
If you are driving in the course of your employment and can demonstrate that your employer was responsible for insuring you, and that you believed that there was proper insurance in place then you may well have a legitimate defence.
Special Reasons Arguments
Special reasons arguments can sometimes be used to reduce the severity of your punishment. Sometimes it can be argued that whilst being technically guilty of driving without insurance, because you actually had no insurance cover in place, you have Special Reasons with relation to the circumstances in which you were driving a the time; namely that you were driving under the genuine misapprehension that you were insured at the time.
If you can successfully argue that there are special reasons involved then the Magistrates have the discretion not to impose any penalty points on your licence. In order to successfully argue Special Reasons, you would need to support your argument giving evidence under oath. It is also preferred to provide documentary evidence in order to support your defence.
You can establish Special Reasons if you have been misled by your insurance company or somebody else regarding the nature and specifics of your insurance cover if this led you to believe that you were properly insured at the time you were driving.
You may also be able to use a Special Reasons argument if your insurance company cancelled the policy without good reason and failed to notify you in advance of the offence occurring.
Sentencing for No Insurance
Points for No Insurance
Driving with no insurance is viewed very seriously by Magistrates which is why there is a penalty of 6 – 8 penalty points, a discretionary ban and a fine of up to £5,000. (This is affected by the severity of the offence and your financial circumstances).
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Clarke v CPS 2013 EWHC 366 (Admin)
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