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Driving without insurance is a strict liability offence, which means that you do not even have to have any intention to commit the offence. As far as the law is concerned, it is straightforward, if you drive a motor vehicle on a public road and there is no insurance or the insurance policy does not cover you, then you are guilty of the offence and will have to plead guilty. The only exception to this is if you are an employee driving within the course of your business.
There is however, a way to avoid having penalty points endorsed on your licence, but certain conditions must apply. For special reasons to be found, you must have a genuine and honest belief that you were insured to drive the vehicle at the material time, and that genuine and honest belief must be based upon reasonable grounds. There must also, to a certain degree, be some evidence that you have been misled into believing that there was a valid policy of insurance. The person misleading you need not have any malice, and it may just be a simple mistake on their part.
Paul Turner was recently instructed by Mrs W who appeared at Fareham Magistrates Court in Hampshire. Mrs W had been summonsed to Court for an offence of driving without insurance. The offence of driving without insurance carries between 6-8 penalty points and in some circumstances would carry a disqualification for the offence alone. The penalty points would have been disastrous for Mrs W as she had only passed her driving test less than a fortnight before she was stopped by the police.
Mrs W spoke to us and outlined the circumstances of her case. She was advised that based upon her initial instructions, she had strong grounds for special reasons to be found.
We wrote to the Court on Mrs W’s behalf and requested that her case be listed for a special reasons trial.
The circumstances of Mrs W’s case was that having recently passed her test and having never dealt with insurance previously, she asked her husband if she would be covered to drive the family car. The husband mistakenly believed that his fully comprehensive insurance policy would entitle his wife to drive, and told her that she was insured to drive the vehicle.
Mrs W was stopped by the police driving the vehicle and was warned that she would be summonsed to Court for the offence.
Mrs W had a genuine and honest belief that she was insured to drive, and the belief was based upon reasonable grounds. She had also been misled by her husband into believing that she was insured to drive the car.
We represented Mrs W at the special reasons trial and having heard all the evidence, along with strong submissions advanced by us, the Court found that special reasons existed in this case and they used their discretion not to endorse any penalty points on Mrs W’s licence. Mrs W, along with her husband, was delighted with the result as it meant that her licence was not revoked and therefore she would not have to re-take her test again.