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Fined for taking a SORNed van for pre-booked MOT test.


jb6981

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My Hobby 725 is kept in storage, the vehicle tax expired end of November 2015 so I declared the vehicle SORN (Statutory off Road Notification). The vehicle needed an MOT test in February 2016 so I checked online for the correct procedure:

 

https://www.gov.uk/sorn-statutory-off-road-notification/overview

 

"When you can drive your vehicle

 

You can only drive a vehicle with a SORN on a public road to go to or from a pre-booked MOT or other testing appointment. You face court prosecution and a fine of up to £2,500 if you use it on the road for any other reason" [end quote].

 

The vehicle's MOT expired on 2nd Feb. 2016. I pre-booked an MOT test at a garage in Birmingham and took the vehicle for it's test on 19 Feb 2016. The van passed and I was issued with a new certificate, I then returned it to storage.

 

You can probably guess what happened next; on 3rd March 2016 I received a letter from DVLA Enforcement Centre, dated 29 Feb 2016, stating:

 

"We have photographic evidence showing that at 10.27hrs on 19/02/2016 the above vehicle (reg no printed at head of letter) was in A38 Corporation Street Aston B4 being used/kept on a public road whilst a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) decarartion was in force.

 

A) If you were the keeper ... an out of court settlement of £113.00 is required to avoid court action." [end quote].

 

Payment to be made by 17 March 2016 or court action will follow.

 

On the back of the DVLA letter, it states; Your statement, (which you have to fill in and return); Part 1 you confirm the that you were the keeper on the relevant date, Part 2 give details if you disposed of the vehicle.

 

Part 3 states; "Please supply any further information you may feel is relevant, enclosing any supporting documents." I filled this in, stating:

 

"The vehicle was being driven to an MOT testing station for a pre-arranged MOT test. Enclosed is the MOT test certificate (copy) dated 19 Feb. 2016, as proof. The vehicle is now back in storage."

 

The issues here are;

 

1) Found guilty and issued with a fine on the evidence of a camera; I have to prove my innocence.

 

2) Policing by camera; back in the day if you were stopped by the Police on your way to a test an explanation and maybe a phone call to the MOT testing station would confirm that you were acting legally.

 

3) Big brother cameras; every vehicle checked and every journey recorded.

 

4) A simple check with the MOT database by DVLA would have confirmed that the vehicle had been tested on the date of the alleged offence and thus avoided issuing a fine.

 

5) The letter from DVLA does not say you have a perfectly valid and legal excuse (see part 3 above) you have to work that out for yourself. You cannot phone them to discuss it; a recorded message tells you to put your representations in writing only.

 

I await a response from DVLA.

 

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That is annoying but since you have a valid reason and proof of that reason you should have no problem with it being cancelled.

 

The thing is; there are thousands of vehicles on the road every day that are being used illegally and if this inconvenience is a consequence of an effort by the authorities to catch those that are not only un-taxed but also probably un-insured I think it's worthwhile.

 

Well done for doing it right.

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It is understandable that you feel outraged because you see yourself as a trustworthy citizen who is being spied upon inappropriately as you see it.  Perhaps you think that only the bad guys should have to face this sort of thing.

 

But the relevant lawful authority had prime fascia evidence that you had committed an offence, so they presented you with an accusation, to which you are effectively then obliged to respond.  That's the way our law works.

 

You have responded helpfully when, if you wanted to be awkward, you could have put them to more trouble.  The problem should now go away.  For the price of filling in a form and using a stamp you have done your bit when duty called and DVLA can now get on with prosecuting those who have committed and offence.

 

How else are our lawful authorities supposed to administer the law? 

 

A perfect system would perhaps be kindlier to unlikely suspects - but at least all these spying cameras will be picking up some of the 20% or so of drivers who are on the roads uninsured etc.

 

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jb6981 - 2016-03-09 1:43 PM.........................4) A simple check with the MOT database by DVLA would have confirmed that the vehicle had been tested on the date of the alleged offence and thus avoided issuing a fine....................

So long as you, or the garage, have the evidence that the test was pre-booked, your letter should suffice. Merely having had it tested, without pre-booking, would not seem sufficient.

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Yes, I'm sorry but I am happy the dvla are trying to pick up uninsured/untaxed/untested vehicles, they had no way of knowing if your test was pre booked or you had merely noticed you had been photographed and nipped into the nearest testing station to avoid a fine.

I appreciate your indignation as a law aiding citizen, but there are plenty of rogues our there.

(I assume you won't be fined)

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StuartO - 2016-03-09 2:29 PM>But the relevant lawful authority had prime fascia evidence that you had committed an offence, >
Prima facie evidence that I had committed an offence? But I was acting perfectly legally! No offence was committed.
so they presented you with an accusation, to which you are effectively then obliged to respond.  That's the way our law works.

 

/>

No they fined me £113! That is not an accusation it is a demand to pay a criminal penalty for an alleged illegal act. The way our common law legal system works is adversarial; an accusation is made and you defend yourself. A penalty, a fine in this case, is only applied if you are found guilty after the evidence is tested by a court or competent authority.
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rupert123 - 2016-03-09 4:43 PM

 

Bit of a misleading heading as you have not been fined yet. It would have been interesting to just leave it and go to court though.

 

The DVLA letter states: "If you were the keeper on the date of the alleged offence, an out of court settlement of £113.00 is required to avoid court action. ... If we do not receive payment for this alleged offence, the Agency will take court action against you.."

 

Seems like a fine to me! If I do not pay I am taken to court and the penalty is a maximum fine of £1000.00 or five time the annual rate of duty whichever is the greater.

 

 

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jb6981 - 2016-03-09 5:28 PM
StuartO - 2016-03-09 2:29 PM>But the relevant lawful authority had prime fascia evidence that you had committed an offence, >
Prima facie evidence that I had committed an offence? But I was acting perfectly legally! No offence was committed.
I understand your annoyance, but what Stuart says is that evidence of an offence existed, not that you had committed an offence. The photograph shows a SORN'd vehicle on the road. That is an offence....unless. What other conclusion were they to draw?
so they presented you with an accusation, to which you are effectively then obliged to respond.  That's the way our law works.

 

/>

No they fined me £113! That is not an accusation it is a demand to pay a criminal penalty for an alleged illegal act. The way our common law legal system works is adversarial; an accusation is made and you defend yourself. A penalty, a fine in this case, is only applied if you are found guilty after the evidence is tested by a court or competent authority.
As you say, an alleged illegal act. You were not in fact fined, you were advised you were liable to a fine - unless you demonstrated the legality of your act. You then did this. These systems could probably be improved somewhat, but they are primarily designed to deter law breaking, so won't be that subtle. As others have said, at least the system spotted you and, had you been a cheat who got caught, you may have been quite pleased.
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jb6981 - 2016-03-09 5:28 PM
StuartO - 2016-03-09 2:29 PM>But the relevant lawful authority had prime fascia evidence that you had committed an offence, >
Prima facie evidence that I had committed an offence? But I was acting perfectly legally! No offence was committed.
so they presented you with an accusation, to which you are effectively then obliged to respond.  That's the way our law works.

 

/>

No they fined me £113! That is not an accusation it is a demand to pay a criminal penalty for an alleged illegal act. The way our common law legal system works is adversarial; an accusation is made and you defend yourself. A penalty, a fine in this case, is only applied if you are found guilty after the evidence is tested by a court or competent authority.
You have not been fined yet. You have been told that you will be fined if you did not comply with the Law. The Fine is an alternative to a Court Appearance. Neither should apply if you can demonstrate you were obeying the legal requirement (which you were, according to your first post).All you had to do was post them the Form with the explanation and giving details of when and where you pre-booked the MOT. Give them as much info as possible, including the name and telephone number of the Tester and the Number on your new MOT Certificate. If that does not sort it out before the Court proceedings then you will have to attend the Court. The Court should throw it out and award you costs if you ask for them.Annoying I know but in this Computer age, we all get this crap from time to time. :-(
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Brian Kirby - 2016-03-09 4:13 PM

 

jb6981 - 2016-03-09 1:43 PM.........................4) A simple check with the MOT database by DVLA would have confirmed that the vehicle had been tested on the date of the alleged offence and thus avoided issuing a fine....................

So long as you, or the garage, have the evidence that the test was pre-booked, your letter should suffice. Merely having had it tested, without pre-booking, would not seem sufficient.

 

I think the days of just turning up at an MOT Testing Station without booking are long gone; the examiner has to input the vehicles details and upload from his computer to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency. Their computer thus knows how long the vehicle is under test for; each test should be about 45 minutes and testing slots have to be purchased by the garage. I think that pre-booking these days is pretty much essential.

 

 

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Brian Kirby - 2016-03-09 5:52 PM

 

jb6981 - 2016-03-09 5:28 PM

 

I understand your annoyance, but what Stuart says is that evidence of an offence existed, not that you had committed an offence. The photograph shows a SORN'd vehicle on the road. That is an offence....unless. What other conclusion were they to draw?

 

The conclusions they leapt to was that an offence had been committed. Unless the vehicle was on it's way to a pre-booked MOT in which case no offence had been committed. So instead of asking me to clarify the situation they assumed I was on the road illegally. And issued a fine. What is so difficult in asking for an explanation before issuing penalties?

 

Why not examine the MOT database and if the vehicle had been tested that day ask for clarification, if it had not been tested then assume it was being driven illegally.

 

As you say, an alleged illegal act. You were not in fact fined, you were advised you were liable to a fine ....

 

Incorrect, I have been fined £113; the letter does not say you are liable to a fine it says "... an out of court settlement of £113 is required to avoid court action ..." I have made representations and the penalty may be rescinded but if I had not entered a defence the £113 would have to be paid.

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No good asking me, I didn't make the rules! As I said, it is a blunt instrument that could doubtless be improved. Why not try writing to your MP and see what answer you get? You never know, they may say thank you and do as you suggest. The catch, I guess, is that under the present rules the test has to be pre-booked to qualify. No-one can ever know who has booked a test on a given day, or with whom. Why they made that a pre-condition I don't know but, again, your MP may be able to clarify.

 

As to when a fine is not a fine, I take the view that one has not been fined until one has paid. A letter that says "If you were the keeper ... an out of court settlement of £113.00 is required to avoid court action", and goes on to say "Please supply any further information you may feel is relevant, enclosing any supporting documents" is not, IMO, imposing a fine. It is advising you that you are liable to be taken to court for the stated offence, and inviting you to enter a defence. So you have three choices. 1, pay the sum demanded and admit guilt. 2, submit your defence. 3, go to court, plead your case, and see what the judge says. In the latter case you may indeed be fined if he doesn't accept your plea.

 

Please don't misunderstand me, I do sympathise. I just think you may be expecting too much sophistication from a fairly cheap and cheerful (? :-)) system.

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Brian Kirby - 2016-03-09 7:05 PM

 

 

Please don't misunderstand me, I do sympathise. I just think you may be expecting too much sophistication from a fairly cheap and cheerful (? :-)) system.

 

 

I also sympathise.

 

Sounds to me like a totally automatic system where the cameras are ' linked ' to a printing machine.

 

Flash goes the camera - out pops a letter. I doubt very much if anyone is around to ' check with a garage '.

 

No doubt the person who used to monitor these things has been made redundant to save money.

 

Hopefully when the circumstances are explained the fine will be cancelled.

 

:-|

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witzend - 2016-03-09 9:09 PMDoes seem strange to me that they never checked the MOT wasn't current as thats a offence as well possibly a lot of people who are fined for untaxed vehicles are getting away with a expired MOT

Not having a current MoT is an 'offence'?  Pray do tell has the Stannary Parliament instituted it's own law regarding such things or are you simply incorrect?

THe OP did the correct thing as per the 'law'.  Vehicle off the road so SORN in force....ergo NO MoT required.  MoT expires while SORN is in force.  OP requires vehicle back on road.  OP goes 'legally' to booked MoT station to obtain MoT....no law broken.  However whilst it is 'accepted' that one does require 'road tax' to be strictly in accordance with the law it is not possible to obtain same without a cutrrent MoT certificate.  Therefore as long as one is going to a 'close' by testing station for a pre-booked test the Police are permitted to use discretion and not issue a penalty.  However if going some distance to your 'preferred' tester they might not be so inclined to be 'understanding'.
Oh and just to clarify completely ...one does require insurance to legally complete this scenario.

So it's possible my old resident of Janner land you might just be mixing your road tax and MoT laws......  :-)
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RogerC - 2016-03-09 10:11 PM
witzend - 2016-03-09 9:09 PMDoes seem strange to me that they never checked the MOT wasn't current as thats a offence as well possibly a lot of people who are fined for untaxed vehicles are getting away with a expired MOT

Not having a current MoT is an 'offence'?  Pray do tell has the Stannary Parliament instituted it's own law regarding such things or are you simply incorrect?

THe OP did the correct thing as per the 'law'.  Vehicle off the road so SORN in force....ergo NO MoT required.  MoT expires while SORN is in force.  OP requires vehicle back on road.  OP goes 'legally' to booked MoT station to obtain MoT....no law broken.  However whilst it is 'accepted' that one does require 'road tax' to be strictly in accordance with the law it is not possible to obtain same without a cutrrent MoT certificate.  Therefore as long as one is going to a 'close' by testing station for a pre-booked test the Police are permitted to use discretion and not issue a penalty.  However if going some distance to your 'preferred' tester they might not be so inclined to be 'understanding'.
Oh and just to clarify completely ...one does require insurance to legally complete this scenario.

So it's possible my old resident of Janner land you might just be mixing your road tax and MoT laws......  :-)
I can't help it if your a bit thick and can't understand whats written for you
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witzend - 2016-03-09 10:19 PM
RogerC - 2016-03-09 10:11 PM
witzend - 2016-03-09 9:09 PMDoes seem strange to me that they never checked the MOT wasn't current as thats a offence as well possibly a lot of people who are fined for untaxed vehicles are getting away with a expired MOT

Not having a current MoT is an 'offence'?  Pray do tell has the Stannary Parliament instituted it's own law regarding such things or are you simply incorrect?

THe OP did the correct thing as per the 'law'.  Vehicle off the road so SORN in force....ergo NO MoT required.  MoT expires while SORN is in force.  OP requires vehicle back on road.  OP goes 'legally' to booked MoT station to obtain MoT....no law broken.  However whilst it is 'accepted' that one does require 'road tax' to be strictly in accordance with the law it is not possible to obtain same without a cutrrent MoT certificate.  Therefore as long as one is going to a 'close' by testing station for a pre-booked test the Police are permitted to use discretion and not issue a penalty.  However if going some distance to your 'preferred' tester they might not be so inclined to be 'understanding'.
Oh and just to clarify completely ...one does require insurance to legally complete this scenario.

So it's possible my old resident of Janner land you might just be mixing your road tax and MoT laws......  :-)
I can't help it if your a bit thick and can't understand whats written for you

Actually me 'old rude Janner resident your spelling inclines one to consider 'tis indeed yourself who is a 'bit thick'. Your juvenile retort contains both spelling and grammatical errors.  You have written 'your' whereas the correct offering should be you're (as in 'you are').  Additionally 'whats' should be what's (as in 'what is').  Lastly there should, by convention, be a full stop after 'you' to indicate to the reader you have finished your sentence.  
So should you ever decide, or indeed become able to communicate in constructed sentences one might be better placed to understand what you have actually intended to convey.  So if you write in sentences like a good boy your intent might just make it across the ether and be understood as 'twas intended.
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This sort of nasty personal sniping, irrelevant to the topic, is precisely why I so rarely visit OAL these days.

 

I can add one relevant bit of information, regarding "unbooked" MOTs. Just last Saturday, having realised with horror that mine had run out a few days previously, I phoned a local garage who gave me a same day slot, but said if I left it with them they could probably do it sooner - which they did. It wasn't my usual garage, but they didn't ask for any vehicle details when I phoned.

This was therefore a prebooked test, but it certainly seemed that they could have done it without booking, as long as they had a slot available.

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Hi all,

As has been stated a person is allowed to drive to a pre- booked MOT station even though the vehicle will obviously not be taxed at this time,no mot no tax.

What I wonder is the position immediately following the mot test. By this I mean if somebody gained an mot at say 10am and was snapped by a camera some couple of hours later?

Cheers

Derek

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