If you own and drive a car in the UK you are already familiar with Road Tax. Road Tax is a fee that you pay to the government that is raised in order to invest and maintain the country’s roads, also to fund road safety schemes and enforcement. 

Road tax helps pay for things like fixing potholes, putting up traffic signs, building new roads or infrastructure and other important stuff that keeps the roads safe and emissions low.

Can I drive without road tax?

Legally, no you can not. If you want to own and drive a car in the UK you need to have the right road tax to show that you are allowed to be on the road. 

If you drive without Road Tax you are at risk of committing an offence and the penalty is £100 (£50 if you pay within 33 days). If you fail to pay the penalty you may be prosecuted and fined up to £1000. Enforcement officers are also allowed to clamp your vehicle for lack of a valid tax. 

Road Tax and insurance

If you drive without insurance, in many cases your insurance will remain valid. However this really does depend on the terms and conditions with your insurer and is by no means guaranteed. It does vary from one insurer to the other so don’t assume you will be covered in the event of an accident. 

You also need to consider the fact that insurers don’t like seeing motoring convictions on your record. If you are caught driving without tax, there is a good chance it will cause your insurance to go up. 

drive without road tax - cars that have been sorned
Charlie from United Kingdom, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN)

If you need to take your car off the road you probably don’t want to pay tax on it. A SORN is a way to tell the DVLA that your vehicle is no longer on the road so they can understand no tax is required for it. 

If you use this however this means you can no longer use the vehicle on the road, unless you get the vehicle taxed again. 

Once you have registered a SORN you will be refunded for any full months remaining tax on the vehicle. 

You can register a SORN here.

Who enforces Road Tax?

Enforcement of Road tax is enforced by the DVLA and the Police.

The DVLA keeps a record of everyone who has valid tax for their vehicle and they share this data with the police. 

The police use Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras and the data from the DVLA to find cars not complying with road regulations.If they flag your license plate as not having tax or MOT they are able to stop you. The have the ability to do the following and more:

  • Fines and Penalties: If a vehicle is found without valid road tax or insurance, the police can issue fines or penalties to the vehicle owner or driver.
  • Seizure: In some cases, the police have the authority to seize vehicles that are driven without proper road tax or insurance.
  • Offence Records: The police can record instances of non-compliance, which can lead to points on a driver’s license or further legal consequences.

Does everybody have to pay Road Tax?

Not everyone pays Road Tax, it is possible to be exempt from the tax. You don’t have to pay Road tax if you fall under any of the following categories.

Who is exempt from Road Tax?

Vehicles used by a disabled person

If you receive any of the following benefits you are exempt:

  • higher rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • enhanced rate mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • enhanced rate mobility component of Adult Disability Payment (ADP)
  • higher rate mobility component of Child Disability Payment
  • War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment

Historic Vehicles

If your vehicle was made before the 1st of January 1983 then you are exempt from paying vehicle tax. You can check if your vehicle is eligible here.

Mobility Vehicles

If you drive a mobility vehicle or a powered wheelchair but you are exempt if you meet the following criteria:

  • It has a maximum speed of 8mph on the road.
  • It is fitted with a device that will limit it to a maximum of 4mph when on the a footway.

Electric Vehicles

In order to be eligible as exempt the electricity used to charge your car must come from the following:

  • Hydrogen fuel cells
  • An electric battery that is not connected to any source of power whilst the vehicle is in motion
  • An external source, such as a private or public charge point.
  • Agricultural Vehicles
  • Tractors
  • Agricultural engines
  • Light agricultural vehicles used off-road
  • ‘Limited use’ vehicles for short journeys (up to 1.5km) on public roads between one’s own lands.

Why does Road Tax matter?

Nobody likes being taxed but without it our roads would be unusable and unsafe. Furthermore, pollution of the environment would be worse. 

Road taxes are used to maintain the roads, such as keeping potholes to a minimum, They are also used to invest in new infrastructure such as roads or car parks, it is also used to fund road safety and environmental initiatives.

Find out more about Road Tax

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