Drivers without insurance for cars, vans or motorcycles face a 50% increase in on-the-spot penalties from July 2013.
The fine is set to rise from £200 to £300 – but many road safety and motoring groups feel the penalty is not enough to stop drivers who can’t or won’t pay from getting behind the wheel.
With the typical cost of car insurance for a young driver aged between 17 years and 22 years old tipping £1,750 a year, the scope of the fine looks like less of a deterrent.
If the police catch a driver with no insurance, the real penalties outweigh the direct financial consequences of picking up a ticket.
Points go on a driving licence, and they often add up to more than those awarded for no insurance as divers without cover tend not to have a test certificate or vehicle excise licence either. Some do not have a driving licence.
The credit rating issues are also far reaching.
Driving without insurance will make sourcing cover difficult and costly in the future, as insurers regard the offence as dishonesty. A black mark also goes on the driver’s credit history, which can make finding a job or finance harder for at least six years after the offence.
In most cases, uninsured drivers will have their vehicles seized and impounded or even crushed.
The scope of the problem is huge – around 13 million drivers are on the roads and 1 in 25 or around 500,000 have no insurance.
Police say statistically they are more likely to have an accident and to commit other crimes. Official figures showed 11,000 drivers with a no insurance conviction reoffended.
The highest fine a court can impose for the offence is £5,000 – but no court has ever ordered the maximum.
“Uninsured drivers cost this country at least £380 million every year and adds about £33 to the cost of every car insurance policy, quite apart from emergency services and court costs. Yet although the penalties are already severe, the current regime is clearly not a deterrent,” said an AA spokesman.
“Large fines for those who can’t pay them are not effective. But if uninsured drivers know they’ll quickly be caught then that will act as a big disincentive. Clearly more police patrols equipped with automatic number plate recognition technology, which helps identify cars with no insurance, MoT or tax, will help.
“We need a tough, no-compromise approach to uninsured drivers which should include community service. For extreme offenders, electronic tagging or as a last resort, custodial sentences should be considered too.”
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