Driving without an MOT: What you need to know

Last updated by mustard.co.uk on May 23rd, 2019

It’s all too easy to forget about your car’s MOT but what are the penalties for not having a valid certificate and is it ever okay to drive without one? We answer all your questions right here.

What is an MOT?

An MOT test checks that your car is fit to be on the road. If it passes its MOT, you’ll be given an MOT certificate valid for 12 months that confirms it’s roadworthy.

An MOT isn’t the same as a service and it doesn’t check the mechanical workings of your car. Instead, an MOT will focus on safety and ensure that your car meets the legal standards set out by the government and will concentrate on areas including:

  • Exhaust emissions
  • Seatbelts
  • Tyres
  • Mirrors
  • Steering and suspension
  • Windscreen

Driving without an MOT

The government sets the price of an MOT so it shouldn’t cost you any more than £54.85 to test your car. Visit GOV.UK for a full list of current MOT prices for all vehicles and to find out what’s tested in an MOT.

Can you drive without an MOT?

It is illegal to drive without an MOT unless:

  • Your car is less than three years old
  • You are driving to a pre-booked MOT test at an approved test centre
  • Your vehicle is exempt (this includes some classic cars, tractors and electric goods vehicles registered before March 2015).
  • So, if your car is brand new and hasn’t yet reached its third birthday (the date it was registered) then you don’t need an MOT.

    Can I drive my car if my MOT is booked in?

    If you’ve left your MOT to the last minute and your current certificate has run out, the only place you can drive it, is to a test centre for a pre-booked MOT.

    Anything about being able to drive without an MOT because there’s a ‘grace period’, is a myth. For example, if your certificate expired on the Monday but your MOT wasn’t until the Wednesday, you cannot drive your car on the Tuesday before the test.

    If you’re stopped on the way to your pre-arranged MOT, you’ll be expected to prove that: Your appointment is already booked (you may be asked for the name of the test centre so it can be checked)

    • The test centre is a ‘reasonable’ distance from where your journey started and that you’re going straight there (you can’t add a visit to the shops on the way)

    What happens if I drive without a valid MOT?

    The penalty for driving without an MOT is a fine of up to £1,000. Anyone caught driving without an MOT repeatedly, could also be taken to court.

    While the MOT guarantees your car is roadworthy immediately after it’s passed the test – it’s up to you to ensure it’s maintained. If you don’t, then you could end up with points on your licence – for example, you could earn three points for ‘driving a vehicle with defective brakes’ or ‘using a vehicle with defective tyres’. So, even if you have a valid MOT, you still need to be aware of any minor problems that can occur through wear and tear and fix them as and when necessary.

    It doesn’t matter whether you’re accidently driving without an MOT or not, the penalties are the same. The use of ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) software and traffic cameras make it easier for the police to find cars without an MOT so it’s highly likely you’ll be found.

    Can I drive my car if it fails the MOT?

    This depends on what your car failed the MOT on and the date of the MOT. If there were no dangerous problems, you’ll be able to drive your car but only if your previous MOT certificate is still valid.

    If your old MOT has already expired or your car is deemed unroadworthy, you’ll need to repair your car before you can drive it away.

    If you’re at a test centre that doesn’t do car repairs, then the only way to legally transport your car is to have it towed to a garage that can fix it.

    Is my car insurance valid without an MOT?

    Driving without a valid MOT is likely to invalidate your car insurance and the penalties for not having appropriate cover include: points on your licence, an unlimited fine and even disqualification.

    Insurers clearly state that your car should be in a ‘roadworthy condition’ and an MOT is the only ‘official’ way to prove that it is, so it’s vital to keep your certificate up to date.

    Can I drive to my MOT test without insurance or car tax?

    If you’re driving or keeping a car on public roads then your car must be taxed and insured, so if you’re driving to an MOT test you’ll need third party cover at the very least.

    The only time you can drive to an MOT test without insurance or tax, is if you have a SORN for your car. SORN stands for ‘Statutory Off Road Notification’ and you’ll need one if you want to take your car ‘off the road’.

    If you have a SORN, the same rules about getting to a test centre apply so the MOT must be pre-booked and the route should be as direct as is reasonably possible.

    Car getting an MOT service

    How can I make sure I don’t forget my MOT?

    If you’re worried about forgetting your MOT, then you can set yourself a reminder at GOV.UK, get MOT reminders. All you need is your number plate and a mobile number or email address (you can cancel the reminders at a later date).

    If you sign up to this service, you’ll get a message one month before your current MOT is due to run out and another reminder if it’s not been booked two weeks before. Reminders for larger vehicles like lorries and buses will be sent two months before existing MOTs expire.

    Of course, it’s equally important to make sure you’ve got car cover too, so when your existing car insurance policy is due to come to an end, make sure you compare quotes online to find the best deal for you.

    With our Cheapest Price Guarantee*, you can be confident about finding a policy that suits both your needs and your budget at mustard.co.uk – so why not start a quote online now.

    You might also be interested in:

    When is my MOT due?
    How to pass your MOT

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