What the Law Says
In order to comply with UK legislation, all vehicles registered in the UK that are being used or kept on a public road must hold a valid tax licence (tax disc) and display this in the vehicle. In cases where the vehicle is not being used or kept on a public road, a tax licence is not required although the registered keeper must apply for a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) in order to declare the vehicle off the road.
Tax licences are issued by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and can be valid for either 6 or 12 months. The cost in obtaining a tax licence varies depending on the type of vehicle being taxed.
How to Tax a Vehicle
The process in taxing a vehicle is a fairly straightforward process as the DVLA automatically alerts the registered keeper of a vehicle when a tax licence is ready for renewal. As outlined above, the renewal date will vary depending on whether a 6 or 12 month licence has been purchased previously. In order to be eligible to tax a vehicle, the vehicle must be insured and have a valid MOT as without both, a tax licence will not be issued. There are three ways to tax a vehicle, at the Post Office, at a local DVLA office and online, this being the most efficient way.
Penalties for Driving without Taxing a Vehicle
Vehicles that do not hold a valid tax licence will result in the registered keeper of the vehicle being guilty of a motoring offence. The DVLA are responsible for ensuring registered vehicles are correctly taxed and in doing this, they carry out regular checks of vehicles on the roads as well as their computer system in order to identify vehicles without tax. Vehicles not displaying a valid tax licence can face an automatic penalty of £80 plus a fine of up to £1000. In addition to this, the police and the DVLA have the power to clamp or impound the vehicle, which will then result in further release fee’s being payable. In some extreme cases, vehicles can even be clamped!
An exemption to having a valid tax licence is available in cases where tax licences are applied for using the online service and not being received in the mail before the old tax licence expires. If this happens to you, you should be exempt for having to display the tax licence for up to 5 days from the date the application was applied for. It should be noted however that this exemption only applies to applications made prior to the expiry date of the tax licence.
Anybody finding themselves in the unfortunate position of being prosecuted for having no tax licence should seek legal advice, particularly in cases where a summons for court has been issued. It may be that we can negotiate with the Crown Prosecution Service to avoid prosecution altogether.
The message is clear – taxing your vehicle is a necessity to driving on public roads in the UK.