Driving without a valid MOT: what you need to know

From finding out when your MOT is due, to how you can be caught if it’s overdue, we have all the do’s and don’ts to keep you on the road safely and without penalty.

ANPR camera detecting expired MOT - A-Plan Insurance

Why do I need an MOT?

For cars over three years old, the MOT is a mandatory part of British motoring life. The purpose is to check roadworthiness, which includes brakes, lights, tyre condition, wipers, and emissions. The maximum fee an MOT testing centre can charge you is £54.85.

You can get an MOT one month prior to your current one expiring and, as everything is now recorded online, you don’t even need to take anything but your car with you.

Although new MOT rules came into force in 2021 due to the national lockdown, these delays are no longer acceptable.

How do I know when my MOT is due?

If you’re not sure whether your MOT is still valid, you can look it up on the Government’s MOT checker using your registration number.

This not only tells you whether or not your car has a current MOT, but it also tells you the date when your next MOT is, or was, due (as well as a reminder of when your road tax is due).

Some garages do offer a text reminder service, or you can sign up to receive a Gov.uk MOT reminder text or email here.

Once you have completed the online form, you will receive a free reminder one month before your car, van or motorcycle MOT is due.

Can I drive my car or van without an MOT?

No. You cannot drive your car if it hasn’t got a valid MOT certificate, with one notable exception: you are allowed to drive it to a pre-booked MOT test.

This means that you have to drive directly to the nearest test centre only, which must be a reasonable and acceptable distance from your home – so there is absolutely no room to run a few sneaky errands across town before heading to the test centre. If you’re stopped by the police, you’ll need to be able to prove where you’re driving to, so your garage may need to verify your appointment.

Did you know that if you don’t have a valid MOT, you aren’t legally allowed to park on a road either?

If you have an accident and don’t have an MOT or tax, your insurer is unlikely to cover you, and you will be liable to cover the costs of any other drivers. If your insurance is also invalid, you will fall foul of UK Law and find yourself with a fine, penalty points and possibly worse.

Is there a grace period for MOT?

Many believe that there is a 14 day grace period but this only a myth. Once your MOT has expired, it is illegal to be driving your vehicle on the road.

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Do ANPR cameras check MOTs?

Yes. Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras are everywhere, both in police cars, on the road and in carparks, and are used by various law enforcement agencies, including the police and the DVLA.

Do ANPR cameras check MOT? - A-Plan Insurance

ANPR cameras cross-check registration plates by taking a snapshot of a vehicles registration.

This snapshot is automatically encoded and checked with the national database so that they can immediately tell when a vehicle doesn’t have a valid MOT certificate, road tax or insurance.

ANPR MOT cameras nor the authorities won’t care whether you have accidently forgotten to renew your MOT, or done it intentionally. For those hoping to dodge ANPR cameras while driving without an MOT, think again, the number is set to increase to support the new smart motorway network.

What is the fine for driving without MOT?

There’s a maximum fine of £1,000 if you’ve been driving a car with no MOT, but in most cases this will be dealt with via a fixed penalty notice and a £100 fine. The penalty for no MOT increases to £2,500, plus penalty points, if you are driving a vehicle you know to be dangerous.

How long after your MOT expires can you drive?

As a UK vehicle owner, your car must meet the minimum standards of roadworthiness at all times. If your MOT has expired, there is no ‘grace period’ available to you. Some people think they can still continue to drive if their MOT expired 3 months ago. They can’t. The best thing to do is to get it to an MOT testing centre immediately.

Can I drive my car after failing an MOT?

If your previous MOT is still valid, and there are no serious problems found, then yes, you can drive it until that MOT expires.

However, if your car fails due to dangerous problems, not only are you putting your and others health and safety at risk if you did drive it after failing an MOT, you must get it fixed as a legal requirement, and retested.

A ‘refusal of MOT certificate’ is recorded in the MOT database, which means that you can be caught by police, or ANPR camera.

If caught, you can be fined up to £2,500, receive 3 penalty points and possibly a driving ban. It makes far more sense to repair your vehicle.

How long does an MOT take?

Surprising very little time, particularly in comparison to how long it would take you to pay off a fine should you be caught without one.

Halfords suggests that between 45 to 60 minutes is average, and they don’t mind if you want to wait in the MOT viewing area for the test to be carried out. Alternatively, they, and others offer a collection service, where for an additional fee they can collect your car, MOT (and service, if required) and return it same-day avoiding any disruption.

Click ‘Find an MOT near me’ to find out the closest MOT testing centre to your work or home.

Remembering car tax

Road tax has often been a little easier to remember. Drivers are sent reminders in the post to the address at which your vehicle is registered. If you’re still worried you’ll forget to pay, you can set up a direct debit that will ensure payment is made automatically. You’ll pay a 5% surcharge if you choose to pay monthly or every six months, but there’s no extra charge for paying it annually by direct debit. For failure to renew, it’s usually an £80 fine (halved if you pay within 28 days), but again there’s a possible penalty of up to £1,000. Neither offence results in points on your licence, but will impact on your finances.

Does MOT affect my car insurance?

In most cases, driving without a valid MOT won’t invalidate your car insurance, but it’s worth checking your policy wording to check whether there’s any mention of this.

However, most policies will expect your car to be in a roadworthy condition – something that isn’t necessarily guaranteed simply by passing an MOT test.

If you have any queries about your car insurance cover, or concerned about any of the above issues inline with your policy, please do give your local A-Plan branch a call. They will be happy to help steer you in the right direction.

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