Legal i

Classic problem

SORN_form1Q. I have a classic car that I no longer drive and it is kept locked up in my garage. Am I right in thinking I don’t need to tax or insure it unless I decide to use it again?

A. Depending on when your car was last used, if it is registered for use on the road, it has to be either insured or the subject of a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN).

This applies to all cars, vans, motorbikes, motorhomes and trucks, even if they are not used on the road. This is the case even for your classic car and even if it has a nil value tax disc.

Insurance is required to be permanent and not just temporary, even if you only take the car out a couple of times a year – you cannot simply insure it temporarily for those periods. These obligations apply to the registered keeper of the vehicle, even if that person is not the one who would usually drive it.

If, however, your car was last taxed, insured or driven on a road or other public place prior to 31 January 1998 you do not have to insure it or make a SORN. Making a SORN is simple and no fee is required. You can do this via the DVLA website.

Only the registered owner of the vehicle can make a SORN and you will need to quote the vehicle registration number, which you can find on the vehicle registration form or on any vehicle licence renewal reminder.

It takes up to four weeks for the DVLA to process the application and they will then notify you of the exemption from insurance. This lasts only 12 months, after which you either need to insure the vehicle or go through the SORN procedure again.

All of this advice applies to taxing an off-road vehicle as much as it does to insuring it. Failure to comply with the requirements could result in a fixed penalty of £100, court proceedings and a fine of up to £1,000, or even having your car wheel-clamped, impounded or destroyed.

Designed by solicitors, tested by barristers and available around the clock, Road Traffic Representation is an online legal system that allows people accused of a motoring offence to get free advice on how the law will be applied in their case, and referral to a telephone helpline and representation by a barrister in court if required. Practising solicitor Martin Langan spent two years designing the system and creating the data repository which allows the software to analyse road traffic offences with the same authority as a solicitor.

Twitter: martinlangan
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