Driving without Insurance Cases – ‘Special Reasons’
Driving without insurance is an unpleasant allegation. It can be a shock to be stopped for not being insured. This often happens when the police stop a driver because their numberplate triggers a no insurance status on the police database. Our motoring law solicitors are finding that this type of stop is becoming more frequent because the police have access to numberplate recognition hardware which is cross-referenced with the insurance companies’ national database of cars.
A prosecution can follow, as well as a fine, 6-8 penalty points, or even a disqualification. But what if the insurance companies have cancelled a policy by mistake? What if they have not informed the policy holder that the policy is cancelled? Sometimes drivers are at the wheel because a friend or associate has told them they are insured. In these situations the court can sometimes use the principle of ‘special reasons‘ to not punish the motorist. Persuading the court to go down this route is not always easy, and representation is a good idea if the licence is important.
Mary Monson Motoring Solicitors act successfully in several no insurance cases in every month of the year. To help anyone unfairly accused of driving without insurance to understand what the position is we have included some recent case studies below and a brief free guide to the law.
If you or a family member need to speak to someone about whether a disqualification is likely, or to speak to one of our specialist solicitors dealing with special reasons in insurance cases, please contact us on freephone 0808 155 4870. We have offices in London, Manchester, Salford & Birmingham and appear in all courts in England and Wales.
Our motoring solicitors’ case studies
Any motoring lawyer can claim to have expertise in different types of motoring case. We have included here some case studies to give some idea of how we prepare our cases.
Case Study 1
Our client was the managing director of a recruitment company. He had recently purchased a private registration plate and had notified his insurer of the change in details by post. The insurance company failed to amend their records to cover his private plate.
Weeks later he was stopped by the police who seized his vehicle for driving without insurance. The key in this case was to prepare the client for the special reasons hearing process. Our motoring lawyers tested his explanation regarding his notification about his new registration to the insurance company.
We did this thoroughly and from all angles that the prosecution might approach so that his case was solid. This thorough preparation of his case as well as representation at Court resulted in a successful finding of special reasons. Result: special reasons found, no points, no disqualification, no fine.
Case Study 2
Driving without insurance was alleged in a situation where our client was a courier with 6 penalty points on his licence. He had purchased an insurance policy and was asked to provide proof of his no claims bonus within a specified period of time.
The proof of no claims was sent to the insurers but they later claimed never to have received it. They cancelled his insurance policy, but crucially failed to communicate this to him. He was later stopped by the police and told that his insurance policy had been cancelled by his insurer.
Our motoring law solicitor and barrister presented his case for ‘special reasons’ in court. Initially, the magistrates’ legal adviser refused to advise the magistrates that special reasons could be applied, but we put pressure on him to leave the decision to the magistrates.
After some legal argument, the legal adviser agreed to put it to the magistrates. After the evidence had been heard in detail, they found special reasons in favour of our client. He received no penalty points but most importantly, he was not disqualified for 6 months. Result: special reasons found, no 6 month ‘totting up’ disqualification.
‘Special Reasons’ in Driving Without Insurance Cases – The Law Explained
Driving without insurance is the common term for the offence of ‘driving a motor vehicle without a policy of insurance or security against third party risks in force‘ (section 143 Road Traffic Act 1988). This includes both driving and permitting someone else to drive the vehicle.
A successful application of special reasons in insurance cases allows the court to use its discretion to not impose the mandatory sentence, which is 6 – 8 penalty points or a disqualification. Having said that, the court will need to be satisfied that the special reason is directly connected with the offence, not just the accused person’s situation (so ‘I will lose my job if I lose my licence is not a special reason). It also needs to be something that the court should to take into consideration when sentencing.
This can mean that, even if someone is technically guilty of driving without insurance, there may be circumstances behind the offence that make the court judge the person as legally blameworthy, but morally innocent.
In such cases, the court may find special reasons for not imposing a penalty. Examples include (but are not necessarily limited to):
- a cancellation of an insurance policy by the insurer without telling the policy holder
- faults attributable to an insurance company that has resulted in no policy being in force
- a person being informed by the owner of a vehicle or policy holder that she can drive the vehicle legally
- a person having a genuine reason to believe he or she is insured, even if the person is not
So, to summarise, a special reason must:
- Relate to the reason the offence took place, and not be about the personal situation of the individual;
- Not amount to a legal defence, but should be a good reason why someone should not receive the mandatory sentence