Rural drivers left off the road as they can’t get tax without MOT

People in rural communities are being forced to walk along dangerous roads as they can’t get their cars taxed because of the MoT backlog, it has been claimed.

The PSNI has said that provided a car is roadworthy and has an MoT appointment, flexibility will be shown to any driver with a vehicle over its test status, while insurance companies have indicated that maintained cars without MoT should be covered.

However, without an MoT you cannot get your vehicle taxed and this is handled from Swansea.

If your vehicle is not taxed, legally you have to declare it and take it off the road, or you are at risk of being subject to fines.

UUP MLA Roy Beggs said people in rural communities who can’t get their car taxed are at risk as they are forced to walk, due to a lack of public transport in these areas, which puts them at risk.

Last year, thousands of MoTs were cancelled after faults were found in vehicle lifts at testing centres and the backlog was exacerbated by the pandemic.

Testing returned to normal back in July, although Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon recently said demand is high and some drivers may not be able to get their vehicles tested before their current MoT certificate runs out.

Mr Beggs, a member of Stormont’s Infrastructure Committee, said he was contacted by a constituent who was unable to get an MoT before her certificate expired and was unable to get their vehicle taxed because of this, leaving them off the road.

“There is no flexibility shown with the ability to tax your car. There has been no problem with MoTs in England, Scotland or Wales where work continued to be carried out by private garages, but legally if your car is taxed your are required to take their car of the road and declare a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification).”

“Keeping a car on the road is a lifeline for rural dwellers as few if any public transport options exist. Having to walk on an unlit road, without a footpath is particularly dangerous.

“Whilst the minister cites road safety as a reason for her decision to cease use of MoT Temporary Exemption Certificates (TECs), this is exposing many to risk.”

Ms Mallon said in a recent answer to an Assembly question: “From a road safety perspective I have no plans to issue further TECs as I consider it is important that all vehicles are brought forward for test at the earliest opportunity.”

Mr Beggs highlighted that many urban drivers may equally be reliant on their cars to travel to work.

He called on more temporary exemption certificates to be issued to those having difficulty getting their MoT, allowing them to get their car taxed. This call was supported by members of Stormont’s Infrastructure Committee on Wednesday, who agreed to write to the Infrastructure Minister asking her to renew TEC for newer vehicles.

The Department for Infrastructure said drivers who need to book an MoT appointment for the purposes of taxing their vehicle, and cannot secure a date before their MoT expires, should book the earliest available appointment and keep checking the booking system for an appointment date before their MoT expires.

“If customers get to within five days of their MoT expiry date they should contact and the DVA will make every effort to get an urgent appointment for their vehicle,” the department added.

“The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in Swansea has responsibility for the enforcement of MoTor tax compliance in NI and information concerning its enforcement policy can be found at Vehicle enforcement policy –

“As a general rule, untaxed vehicles are automatically identified from computer records and MoTorists will usually be notified by the DVLA in advance of fines and penalties being imposed.

“In the event police encounter an untaxed vehicle, so long as they can ascertain that a vehicle is roadworthy, has a forthcoming MoT test date and is not SORNed, then police will not take any further action.”

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