This month’s editorial piece presented me with a small problem. When I started writing it, it was to be about the changes that the DVSA made to their website regarding MOT failures. However within two days what was originally written has subsequently been changed, meaning that we’re all none the wiser.
Already lost? Read on.
So, on the first of February we were all deeply excited about the fact that it appeared that the DVSA had cleared up an area that had historically been greyer than last month’s weather. That area is one we’re often asked about: if my car still has MOT to run, but fails its test, am I allowed to drive it?
There weren’t really any guidelines, no hard and fast rule, just a fair bit of shoulder shrugging and the application of some common sense. If it’s failed on a number plate light bulb, it’s a bit less serious than if it’s failed on a bald tyre or the suspension falling off.
At the start of February, the DVSA had updated its guidelines, warning motorists that they faced prosecution should they drive their car following an MOT failure, even if it’s previous test hadn’t expired. This was good news, not necessarily because of what was said, more that there was finally some clarification on the matter. No longer would we have to use the words “it’s a grey area”.
But, whether this was written by someone in the IT department that didn’t understand the memo, or the powers that be changed their minds, what was on the DVSA’s website was swiftly altered.
What it now says is that if it fails, you can take your vehicle away if your MOT certificate is still valid. But they have now made a point of stating that your vehicle still needs to meet the minimum standard of roadworthiness or you can be fined up to £2500, banned from driving and get three penalty points for driving a vehicle that is in a dangerous condition.
In summary, we are actually no better off than we were before this all happened. But it does boil down to common sense. Is the car roadworthy? If it has failed on a bulb and a wiper blade, but still has two weeks to run on last year’s certificate, I’m fairly certain that you aren’t going to get a £2500 fine.
Although if it’s failed on the front suspension falling off and the brakes not working, and you decide to drive it around for those final two weeks, not only is it not road worthy, the failure certificate issued to you by the test station is hard evidence that you are aware that it has these defects. Which is obviously frowned upon.
So, just to be clear, if you take your car for its MOT early, and it fails, providing that it’s nothing major wrong with it the DVSA says that you are okay to drive it. Which is pretty much what we all thought anyway.
By Ben Morley