Tuesday, 13 August 2013

DVLA driving motorists “Around the Bend”

Road Tax
The Driver Vehicle and Licensing Agency (DVLA) have garnered more than 330 million pounds in fines or out of court settlements over the past ten years from motorists in the UK. These fines have been linked to people failing to inform the DVLA that they had sold on a vehicle, failing to tax their motor vehicle and Updating your License Details. Quite rightly a driver is at fault if they fail to inform the DVLA in writing of these changes or if they drive around in an untaxed car.

However, what the figures do not reveal is how many people have been fined incorrectly and, even when pointing it out to this executive agency of the Department of Transport, still end up having to pay anything from £35 to £365. It would seem that a number of consumers have had a less than satisfactory experience. The tale below is just one example of a motorist ending up paying for a fine when he clearly was not in the wrong.

Another Fine Mess you’ve got me into 

Speaking on “ You and Yours” this week, one man who moved from London to the Wirral spoke to the Radio 4 presenters about how he had sent off his V5C (the appropriate part of the car’s logbook) to the DVLA when he sold his car before moving north to take up a new job. A few months later, realising he hadn’t had a confirmation from them, he telephoned and was told they hadn’t received his documentation. With around thousands of pieces of mail arriving at the DVLA door each day you could be forgiven for thinking that a few letters would go astray.

However our intrepid motorist was told not to worry, send a confirmation in writing with his new address and everything would be fine. This he did only to find some eight months later a letter from a debt collector, demanding £365 for non-payment of magistrate’s court fine and not turning up to court to answer a summons that, you’ve guessed it, had been sent to his old address. Back to the DVLA who told him that it was a mix up between departments and everything was fine, until four weeks later the process started all over again. After complaining and getting nowhere he gave up and paid £35 out of court settlement – even though it was not his fault.

Advice from consumer law experts

 Last year there were 38,000 prosecutions with only 265 that were unsuccessful with the motorist winning – but how many consumers backed down and paid up just to get the DVLA off their back? Specialists in consumer law have noted that the DVLA back down when people produce evidence of posting documentation to them but there are still “inconsistencies” in the DVLA procedures that are of concern. Their advice is to get proof of posting and take copies of signed and dated documentation. Also check that if you have sent something to them that the DVLA respond with an acknowledgement which they do say they will do within four weeks. If you fail to comply it is an offence, if they fail to comply it would seem there is very little recourse – what do you think?

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