A camera caught me driving untaxed to my MoT test. I'm being prosecuted. What should I do?

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Q. I was caught on camera driving an untaxed car to a pre-arranged MoT test — something I thought was legal. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) now wants to take me to court unless I provide a copy of the MoT certificate from the date in question (I have since sold the vehicle) and a letter from the garage confirming the test was pre-arranged. Surely it is up to the DVLA to prove my guilt rather than me to prove my innocence. What will happen if I don’t respond?
CB, Worsley, Greater Manchester

A. The rules for taxing and registering your vehicle are set out in the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act (1994). The act states that “a vehicle does not need to be taxed if used solely for the purpose of attending a pre-arranged compulsory test or examination” — in your case an MoT test.

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That said, the onus is on the owner to prove they were taking the car to a pre-arranged test. The reason is that this is a civil rather than criminal case and to prove the offence the prosecution needs only to show that a defendant used or kept the vehicle on a public road while it was untaxed.

In your case that would likely be demonstrated through the photographic evidence from the automatic numberplate recognition camera and DVLA records showing you as the registered keeper on that date.

As the DVLA has informed you, to challenge the case you will need to provide the evidence to prove that the MoT test was pre-arranged and carried out. If you do not respond, or you give the DVLA only verbal assurances that the MoT test was pre-booked, it is likely to issue proceedings, knowing it is virtually guaranteed to win.

You could face a fine of up to £1,000 (or five times the annual duty rate, whichever is greater), but provide written evidence and the case will most likely be dropped.

Sunday Times Driving Car Clinic: Nick Freeman, legal advice

Nick Freeman is a solicitor who runs a legal practice in Manchester specialising in road traffic law – read more from Nick here.

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