Car insurance rules become more restrictive

Motorway traffic near Solihull
Image caption Registered drivers who do not have insurance will receive a warning and then a £100 penalty

More restrictive car insurance rules have come into effect as the government seeks to clamp down on uninsured drivers.

From Monday, drivers will need to declare their car as being off the road if they want to avoid buying insurance.

Previously, offenders had to be caught in the act of driving without insurance to be prosecuted.

Registered drivers who are found to be uninsured will be sent a warning letter, followed by a £100 penalty.

If a car still remains uninsured, it can be clamped, or seized and destroyed, or the owner could be taken to court and given a fine of up to £1,000.

Enforcement action is expected to commence from mid-July.

Advertising campaign

Some 1.4 million vehicles in the UK do not have insurance, compared with 34 million that do.

The Department for Transport says that 23,000 people are injured and 160 killed each year by incidents involving uninsured drivers.

"Uninsured driving is a serious problem in this country," said Malcolm Tarling of the Association of British Insurers, noting that about 4% of drivers are not covered.

"Not only are they more likely to cause an accident, but they also push up cost of insurance, which all honest, law-abiding drivers have to pay," he told the BBC.

He warned that offenders who are caught under the new law will not only get a criminal record, but also have to pay more for their insurance in the future.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) will work with the Motor Insurers' Bureau to identify non-compliant drivers.

The two launched an advertising campaign a month ago to raise awareness of the change in law.

Any driver who is concerned about their insurance status can check online to see if they appear on the motor insurance database, which is used to identify offenders.

Drivers who wish to avoid paying for insurance must issue a statutory off-road notification to the DVLA, in the same way they do to avoid paying road tax.

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