Drivers issued urgent car tax warning with 500,000 Britons facing enormous fines

Car tax documents

Almost half a million drivers could be fined

Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 08/12/2023

- 10:12

Updated: 08/12/2023

- 10:14

Motorists could also have their vehicles clamped by the DVLA

Almost half a million people are driving on UK roads without having the proper car tax for their vehicle, with hundreds of thousands risking hefty fines.

Newly released data from the Department for Transport found that there are 498,000 untaxed vehicles across the UK.

Estimates show that 1.3 per cent of vehicles in UK traffic were unlicensed, while Northern Ireland had the highest rate of untaxed vehicles at 2.9 per cent.

Almost a quarter of cars without Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) seen in traffic have had that status for more than half a year.

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The statistics are based on automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras at 296 sites in June and early July 2023.

Data from the RAC found that previous data for the number of untaxed vehicles was leading to an annual road tax revenue loss of £119million.

Drivers who continue to drive without having the proper VED applied to their vehicles could be hit with huge fines.

If a vehicle is caught driving on the road and is not taxed and has not been declared off-road (SORN), the registered owner will receive an automated letter and fine of £80.

Motorists will get a 50 per cent discount if the registered keeper pays the fine within 28 days.

In the event that someone fails to pay the fine, they could be prosecuted and hit with a maximum fine of £1,000 if the case goes to court.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Leaving aside the loss of cash for the Chancellor, the worry for us all must be what else VED evaders are failing to do.

“If they aren't prepared to pay the duty what are the chances they're also uninsured and unroadworthy with no MOT?

“Some people may simply have forgotten to pay their VED for a week or two, or perhaps failed to update their records when they move house, but evasion on this scale could be a sign of more serious issues for road safety.”

All vehicles need to tax their vehicles, even if they do not have to pay anything, as is the case for electric vehicles and cars that are older than 40 years.

Electric vehicle owners will need to pay car tax from 2025 after the Chancellor announced changes to the system of motoring taxation which was described as “unfair” by some.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency also has the power to clamp vehicles until the correct amount of tax is paid and any fines are settled.

Julie Lennard, chief executive at the DVLA, said: “As 98.7 per cent of vehicles on the road are taxed correctly, it is very clear that the vast majority of drivers make sure they do the right thing and ensure their vehicle is taxed.

“However, we will continue our work to keep evasion rates low by continuing to make vehicle tax easy to pay but hard to avoid.”


Untaxed clamped car

The DVLA has the power to clamp vehicles if they are untaxed


Instances of people driving untaxed vehicles has risen dramatically since the abolition of the paper tax discs in October 2014.

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