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Thread: The Road Traffic Act - a salutory lesson

  1. #1
    Grand Master learningtofly's Avatar
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    The Road Traffic Act - a salutory lesson

    Last summer I bought my son a scooter for his 21st birthday. He'd just passed his CBT, needed something to ride to work and back on, and absolutely loved being mobile. It pretty much changed his life, in fact.

    Fast forward to December, and the bike was stolen by some local scrotes. They seemingly rode it for a day or so and then proceeded to smash it up before dumping it. When it was found (dumped locally), most of the panels/fairings were destroyed and the ignition barrel had been torn out. All in all, it was in a sorry state, and given that it was only worth about 650 - and his insurance excess was 850 - I suggested to Sam that he see what he could get for it as a non-runner. Well, he then really surprised me by refusing to give up on it; he sourced some panels and a new ignition barrel, and with his mate's help slowly rebuilt it piece by piece. It's now a week or two from being a runner again... just needs to be popped into an auto-electrician and then needs it's first MOT (which hopefully will be a formality).

    Anyway, yesterday he received a letter from the DVLA, stating that the Motor Insurance Database showed the bike was uninsured on 13th March (a pretty random date!), and that he was being fined 100. The only way in which he could dispute the fine was by having proof of insurance on that date; a valid SORN from prior to the date; evidence that he hadn't been the keeper; or evidence that it had been stolen. Well, of course it had been stolen, but given that the police have a record of its recovery that one's a non-starter.

    I feel a bit guilty, as when I advised Sam that he may as well terminate his insurance (we knew it wouldn't be on the road for months) it didn't occur to me that - even though the bike has been garaged since and has been a non-runner anyway - he still needed at least third party cover to avoid falling foul of section 144 of the Road Traffic Act (which requires all vehicles to be insured unless the DVLA have been formally advised that they're off the road). Had I realised that I'd have told him to SORN it straight away, and there's no way he'd have understood about that himself having never owned a vehicle before. In any event, I'll be paying his fine and making sure that he now does the necessary.

    I'm obviously a bit miffed about it, but thought that it was a lesson that might benefit others who weren't aware of this requirement (remember, the bike has been in a garage, and unrideable, since its recovery). In fact, I think it's the consequence of a fairly recent amendment to the RTA.
    Last edited by learningtofly; Yesterday at 16:53.

  2. #2
    Master RossC's Avatar
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    Thanks for this, Tony.

    Particularly pressing for the many of us that have classic cars garaged for the winter and might not get round to the SORN as quickly as the insurance runs out.

    Thankfully, my classic car insurance is cheap enough that it runs all year round, but that wont be the same for everybody.

  3. #3
    Master
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    Helpful post, ta.

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  4. #4
    Grand Master
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    Its easy to get caught out with the SORN rules, but the onus is on us (as vehicle owners) to be aware of the regulations. In a situation like this it does seem harsh, particularly when the bike was in no fit state to be used, but unfortunately these rules are applied with no flexbility.

  5. #5
    Grand Master Chris_in_the_UK's Avatar
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    Oh man.

    The reality is a vehicle needs either a SORN or insurance/tax and MOT if applicable otherwise this is the potential result.
    When you look long into an abyss, the abyss looks long into you.........

  6. #6
    Grand Master Dave+63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_in_the_UK View Post
    Oh man.

    The reality is a vehicle needs either a SORN or insurance/tax and MOT if applicable otherwise this is the potential result.
    I think youd be ok without the MOT (not that youd want to be without an MOT if your vehicle is on the road) but its easy to forget to SORN a vehicle.

  7. #7
    Grand Master Chris_in_the_UK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave+63 View Post
    I think youd be ok without the MOT (not that youd want to be without an MOT if your vehicle is on the road) but its easy to forget to SORN a vehicle.
    Indeed Dave - I meant SORN or everything.
    When you look long into an abyss, the abyss looks long into you.........

  8. #8
    Grand Master gray's Avatar
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    It wouldn't have occurred to me that a moped in a garage would have needed SORN either. Not for a minute. I mentioned it to a few folks and they were surprised too. Useful to know
    Gray

  9. #9

    The Road Traffic Act - a salutory lesson

    Typical ! There is a lesson for the poor lad I guess - sometimes it is worth contacting the powers that be and explaining the situation..?
    I have a bike in the garage that is out of road tax and not on a sorn either - it is inured but I am wondering what will happen when I go to tax it again once the weather improves (fair weather biker!)

    Edit - just re read the original post! It wasnt sorn or insured. I had no idea this was a thing either and I am old enough to know better

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    Last edited by Mr G Imp; Yesterday at 18:02.

  10. #10
    Grand Master Dave+63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr G Imp View Post
    Typical ! There is a lesson for the poor lad I guess - sometimes it is worth contacting the powers that be and explaining the situation..?
    I have a bike in the garage that is out of road tax and not on a sorn either - it is inured but I am wondering what will happen when I go to tax it again once the weather improves (fair weather biker!)

    Edit - just re read the original post! It wasnt sorn or insured. I had no idea this was a thing either and I am old enough to know better

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    Heres the relevant details from the gov.uk website.

    https://www.gov.uk/sorn-statutory-off-road-notification

  11. #11
    Journeyman
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    We really should not be surprised as whatever the government say, the continuous insurance rules were designed to bring in revenue by way of fines. So many get caught out, and now no tax disc is required I suspect that too has helped swell the coffers.

    That said, I think the circumstances described by th op would have caught out most of us.

  12. #12
    Grand Master oldoakknives's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr G Imp View Post
    Typical ! There is a lesson for the poor lad I guess - sometimes it is worth contacting the powers that be and explaining the situation..?
    I have a bike in the garage that is out of road tax and not on a sorn either - it is inured but I am wondering what will happen when I go to tax it again once the weather improves (fair weather biker!)

    Edit - just re read the original post! It wasnt sorn or insured. I had no idea this was a thing either and I am old enough to know better

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    I didn't realise it had to be insured if not on a sorn. My bike is insured all year round although I only ride in the summer (I know, I know, fair weather biker!) but it was luck more than judgement tbh.
    Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything.

  13. #13
    Good on him for fixing his bike up. The boy will (continue to) do well

  14. #14
    Master IAmATeaf's Avatar
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    Might be worth a call, you never know until you have.

    Best of luck getting the scooter back together, hes showing something which most youngsters and I include my kids in this, drive and determination.

  15. #15
    Master Onelasttime's Avatar
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    That's harsh, but I suppose they need to cast the net wide to catch the genuine offenders. Unfortunately, it catches the innocent small fry at the same time.

    Fair play to him for persisting with the repairs. I'm sure many would have chucked it in. Good luck on the MOT

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Mr G Imp View Post
    Typical ! There is a lesson for the poor lad I guess - sometimes it is worth contacting the powers that be and explaining the situation..?
    I have a bike in the garage that is out of road tax and not on a sorn either - it is inured but I am wondering what will happen when I go to tax it again once the weather improves (fair weather biker!)

    Edit - just re read the original post! It wasnt sorn or insured. I had no idea this was a thing either and I am old enough to know better

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    You need to get that bike SORN asap otherwise you could be fined for not taxing it. Once it's SORN, you can just retax when you need to.

  17. #17
    Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing that, it's very useful to know and not a potential issue I would have considered.
    I expect that he's learned a few new skills along the way and I hope that you both get something positive from what started off as an unpleasant experience. Hope it's back on the road soon.

  18. #18
    Craftsman Maysie's Avatar
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    Thank you for sharing that. I think you may have just saved me some money for a 'similar' issue on a recently purchase vehicle which is now SORN.

  19. #19
    Grand Master learningtofly's Avatar
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    Happy that its been useful information, even if its come at a cost to moi

    Sam has certainly impressed me with his fortitude on this occasion (and thanks for the kind words in this respect), but Id be lying if I told you it was a characteristic for which hes widely known! Maybe this challenge will be a milestone in his personal development

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