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Vehicle Licensing

Volume 405: debated on Thursday 22 May 2003

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The Department of Transport is today announcing action to modernise the vehicle registration system, so as to attack the related problems of abandoned cars, vehicle crime, unlicensed vehicles, and those for whom the person responsible cannot be traced.We intend to bring forward secondary legislation to implement powers taken in the 2002 Finance Act to ensure that from 1 January 2004 the registered keeper of a vehicle will be liable for licensing the vehicle until it is notified as sold, scrapped, stolen or exported or unless a current Statutory Off Road Notification has been declared to the Driver and vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).Under the same powers we will bring forward secondary legislation to provide for a new automatic fixed penalty for those who fail to re-license (tax) on time.The new measures aim to provide greater protection to honest motorists.Vehicle crime is an expensive burden on the honest citizen. It is estimated that there are about a million unlicensed vehicles on the road. These vehicles are frequently abandoned and often uninsured—adding an estimated £500 million to the overall cost of uninsured driving. This adds around £30 a year to the honest UK motorist's insurance premium. Vehicle crime is estimated to cost the economy £3 billion each year and accounts for more than a quarter of all reported crime. By ensuring vehicles do not fall out of the registration system, we can reduce the number of unlicensed and often uninsured vehicles on the road—tackling car abandonment and bringing dishonest motorists to book.Starting in January 2004,

Motorists will be legally responsible at all times for re-licensing (taxing) their vehicle.
Those who fail to re-license on time will be liable for a standard penalty of £80. Determined offenders could face a severe fine if taken to court. If the vehicle remains unlicensed, then following the provisions of the 2002 Finance Act, DVLA may prosecute and a court may fine the registered keeper of an unlicensed vehicle a minimum of £1000.
Offenders will be penalised automatically when their tax-disc expires or Statutory Off Road Notification lapses—there will no longer be any need to see the unlicensed vehicle on the road.

The level of the standard penalty will be subject to public consultation later this year

To support these measures:

The DVLA will increase and re-focus its enforcement activities. It will give particular attention to enforcement from the record and increased cooperation with the police.
Already, from 1 February this year, vehicles can only be licensed (taxed) with a valid logbook or DVLA reminder, to ensure that every vehicle has a traceable keeper.
Motorists already have a legal obligation to ensure that their registration details are kept up to date. The DVLA will be issuing new-format vehicle registration documents (logbooks) to all law-abiding and by definition traceable vehicle keepers from January 2004. All previous logbooks will be invalid from 31 March 2005.

To help safeguard honest motorists, the Government is also advising motorists who sell their car to keep a record of the identity of the person to whom they sell it. For example the number of the buyer's driving licence.

The new measures form part of the Government's programme of initiatives to tackle vehicle crime. They follow recommendations agreed by the Modernising Vehicle Registration Implementation Board, which includes representation from motoring organisations, the motor trade, the insurance industry and the police. They also reflect recommendations put forward by the Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science.

These new measures will protect the majority of honest and responsible motorists and make the offenders pay.