Crackdown on uninsured vehicles

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Laws on vehicle insurance are to be tightened in a bid to reduce the 6 per cent of motorists who drive without cover, it was announced today.

In future, it will be an offence not only to drive without insurance, but also to keep an uninsured car. The new offence will attract a penalty of up to £1,000, with the possibility of court action to seize the vehicle.

Transport Minister Jim Fitzpatrick said that new procedures will allow the Motor Insurance Bureau in Milton Keynes to cross-reference its records with those of the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to pinpoint motorists without insurance.

He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "This is about people who are driving, who are endangering other road users, who are killing and seriously injuring people on our roads.

"We are intending to try to make sure we can stop them from doing that. The 150,000 cars that were seized by police last year, that number will grow as a result of the powers we are taking."

Mr Fitzpatrick said that in the most recent year for which figures are available, around 160 people were killed by uninsured drivers in crashes on British roads, while 23,000 were injured.

In future, keepers of uninsured vehicles will be sent a letter demanding to know why they have no cover.

If they have no reasonable explanation, they will be liable to a fixed penalty fine of £100, rising to £1,000, and possible court action to seize their vehicle.

Car enthusiasts who keep their vehicles permanently off the road in collections or for tinkering in the garage will be exempt from the new checks, so long as they have applied for a Statutory Off Road Notice (Sorn) for their vehicle, said Mr Fitzpatrick.

And he said the authorities would accept reasonable excuses for the absence of insurance, such as it falling due for renewal while the owners were on holiday.

But he added: "These 6 per cent who don't have insurance are costing the rest of us £30 a year in extra premiums. They are going to be told they can't get away with that any longer."