Drivers issued urgent warning of £1,000 fines and MOT issues for number plate offences ahead of March changes

Drivers issued urgent warning of £1,000 fines and MOT issues for number plate offences ahead of March changes

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Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 06/02/2024

- 10:29

Many drivers could unintentionally be risking hefty fines because of their number plates

Thousands of drivers across the UK are at risk of being hit with fines every year for common number plate offences, according to new data.

Around 14,000 drivers were prosecuted for vehicle registration mark (VRM) offences each year during 2021 and 2022.

It is believed that the number is closer to 20,000 a year given that only 30 of 43 police forces across England and Wales responded.

The Freedom of Information request found that police forces continue to monitor drivers and their number plates to ensure they are road legal.

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Number plate on a Mini

Drivers could be slapped with significant fines and even fail their MOT tests


Offences can include having an incorrect font, spacing or tinting on the front or rear number plates, or sometimes both.

Motorists could also be hit with fines if they drive without a number plate or have it obscured by substances like mud to the point where it is unreadable.

London made up a large bulk of the number plate offences, with the Metropolitan Police reporting 5,969 in 2021 and 5,739 in 2022.

The figures could also include people being caught for having the light above or below the number plate not working, making it illegible in the later hours of the day.

Jake Smith, Director at Absolute Reg, called on drivers to ensure their plates are legible and won’t get them pulled over.

He said: “There are thousands of cars on the roads with number plates altered to create something totally unique.

“Many of these are tinted or use a different font design to make the car stand out from the crowd.

“But if the police decide the number plate doesn’t conform to the rules then there could be a fine issued.

“Our advice to drivers is simply to conform to the rules of the road and not to be tempted to customise their number plate to the point where it could land them with a fine.”

Drivers who are found to be displaying incorrect number plates could be fined up to £1,000 and their vehicle will fail its MOT test.

The GOV.UK website outlines how standard vehicle number plates must consist of two letters, two numbers followed by three letters.

The first two letters denote the region where the car was first registered, followed by the year of issue and finally three letters chosen at random.


Number plate

New number plates will be released in March


New number plates are set to be rolled out in March with forecourts across the UK welcoming the latest generation of models.

The new “24” plate will be launched on March 1, while “74” plates will be seen on vehicles from September 1 later this year.

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