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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2007 12:34 
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Uninsured drivers could have cars seized

By David Millward, Transport Editor

Drivers who let their insurance lapse could face having their cars seized from outside their homes under plans being drawn up by ministers.

Powers due to come into force from April 2009 will make it possible for vehicles to be confiscated as soon as their insurance lapses unless their owners take them off the road.

This could lead to several hundred thousand cars being confiscated.

Ministers believe the move is necessary to tackle uninsured motorists, who are regarded as both anti-social and a risk to other road users. According to industry calculations, 5.7 per cent of motorists - about two million people - are uninsured.

Uninsured drivers already face having their cars confiscated if caught using them. Last year, 112,000 vehicles were seized and thousands were crushed.

Those motorists were caught in roadside checks by police officers using number plate recognition cameras to identify the owner and checking the information against an insurance database. But the campaign will be stepped up when the insurance database is also checked against information held by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in Swansea.

As soon as a policy lapses, it will be possible to track down the owner of the car and act almost immediately, unless he or she has filed a form telling Swansea that the vehicle has been taken off the road.

Under the new system, a warning letter will be sent to an uninsured driver first. If no response is received, the motorist is given a £100 fine. If that is not paid, the car could be seized.

The system is based on existing powers where the authorities can confiscate unlicensed television sets.

Ministers believe that the present crackdown, based on roadside checks, has already borne fruit. A number of those caught driving uninsured cars have also been charged with other - in many cases serious - criminal offences.

There has also been pressure for action from the insurance industry, which has calculated that accidents involving uninsured drivers cost about £500?million a year. "Uninsured drivers are a menace," said Nick Starling, the director of general insurance and health at the Association of British Insurers.

"They often drive unroadworthy vehicles, and the cost of compensating their victims adds an extra £30 a year to premiums paid by honest motorists."

Leading motoring groups also welcomed the move.

"This is a long overdue modernisation of the way in which we deal with a serious problem," said Neil Greig, the director of the Institute of Advanced Motorists.

However, the proposals have alarmed the motoring campaigner Paul Smith. "I am very concerned about errors in the DVLA database," he said.

Meanwhile, Government sources confirmed yesterday that ministers are considering doubling the number of penalty points imposed on motorists who flagrantly break the speed limit.

The proposals, first disclosed in The Daily Telegraph in September, would also mean fines being reduced for drivers who drift marginally above the limit.

Paul Smith
Our scrap speed cameras petition got over 28,000 sigs
The Safe Speed campaign demands a return to intelligent road safety

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