Northern Ireland MOT Delays: How to Avoid Prosecution for Driving Without a Valid Certificate

Three months down the road from Northern Ireland’s announcement that MOT test centres were suffering from disastrous backlogs, the situation doesn’t seem to be improving in a hurry. A five-month long delay was announced at the beginning of April with failing test equipment and COVID combining to keep test centres out of action or at least at reduced efficiency for some time.

The problem began in January 2020, when 52 of the 55 vehicle lifts used across the region’s 15 test centres were noted to have suffered cracks, leading to all tests being suspended. Cars that were over five years old were granted temporary exemption from MOT testing, allowing for the smaller portion of younger vehicles to be prioritised. The move alleviated minimal stress on the service, however, due to the COVID pandemic which struck in March, testing was suspended altogether for another three months.

Andrew Muir, MLA of the Alliance Party, has pushed for Ministers to bring forward the notice period to remind drivers to book sooner rather than later.

car tyre being fitted

How Can I Avoid Prosecution for Driving Without a Valid MOT?

Firstly, it’s important to note that new cars are exempt from MOT testing for three years after their production, so if your old vehicle is waiting on a certificate but is likely to fail the test anyway, consider your options. Scrapping the car through Scrap Car Comparison will give you a lump sum of cash to put towards a brand new vehicle.

Northern Ireland’s Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) acknowledges the fact that car owners require an MOT to be able to tax their vehicle. They have ensured the public that the best option is to book the earliest available appointment and repeatedly check the booking system in the hope that an earlier slot will become available.

If your vehicle’s tax has expired, or the car’s MOT is within five days and you haven’t been able to obtain a booking, contact the DVA Customer Service team via email at [email protected]. The DVA promises to do their best to get you an emergency appointment. In fact, they also commented that every customer who contacted them for this reason was indeed given a booking to take place before the expiration of their current MOT.

The PSNI stated back in April that any driver caught without a valid MOT should be stopped as normal, with the police assessing the state of the vehicle at the roadside. If it is deemed to be safe and roadworthy, no further action will be taken.

As far as tax is concerned, the police do not have the authority to prosecute for this offence but they can refer the matter over to the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). If the vehicle hasn’t been taxed because the driver cannot secure an MOT test appointment, allowances should be made and relevant advice given to ensure the car is certified as safe as soon as possible.

Will Driving Without a Valid MOT Affect My Insurance Policy?

This may vary based on your insurance provider. It’s important to contact them and check your policy documentation so that you know exactly how your provider is dealing with the MOT delays. The advice of the Association of British Insurers suggests that your insurance policy should not be invalidated as long as the car is roadworthy, so proper maintenance is recommended if you can’t find a slot before your MOT expires.

It is also recommended to apply for a temporary exemption if you believe your vehicle to be eligible.

Or if you can’t secure an MOT test slot and you think the car is going to fail anyway, you might be better off moving on to something new now. With new cars being exempt for the first four years of their life, consider scrapping your old vehicle with Scrap Car Comparison. We can find you the best price on the market in just 30 seconds and our network of buyers will collect for free, wherever you are. Save yourself the MOT stress and sell your car as scrap or salvage with Scrap Car Comparison today.

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