The number of drivers caught without road tax has doubled since paper discs were abolished more than five years ago, new figures have revealed.
Around 1.2 million motorists were collared for having untaxed vehicles last year – which has left many drivers feeling a lot like Cliff!
Will Car Tax Automatically Renew?
The short answer is no. The statistics listed here are as a result of missed tax renewals and the figures include cases where the DVLA has issued penalties for vehicles clamped at the roadside, late licensing penalties and where unlicensed vehicles have been detected in use on public roads.
We were able to obtain this data through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the Driver Vehicle and Licensing Agency (DVLA).
When the decision to abandon the paper discs and move to digital registration was brought in on October 1, 2014 - authorities claimed it would save the taxpayer £14 million a year.
But the switch in technology has seen a rocketing number of drivers opting to ignore tax rules, or forgetting to renew at all.
Are Car Tax Reminders Sent Out?
MotorEasy founder and CEO, Duncan McClure Fisher said: "Vehicle tax is levied as an excise duty and must be paid for vehicles driven or parked on UK roads.
“Modernising the way it’s handled had to come at some point, but it seems overall there’s been a bit of a bump in the road – with a large increase in the number of people not paying last year compared to 2014.
“This means an exercise designed to save money on printed discs has resulted in a huge loss in tax revenue for the UK government, which has a knock-on effect on public services such as road maintenance. If fines have doubled you can be sure the number of untaxed vehicles has also grown significantly.
“It may be that people think they can avoid paying vehicle tax because they don’t have to display a disc, or because they don’t have that physical reminder of their expiration date.
“However, the DVLA does still send out reminder letters – similar to MotorEasy, who provide drivers with a free account displaying all their relevant vehicle data.”
The figures show an increase in the number of offenders caught from 2014 to 2017 was 1,373,184.
The largest jump was seen from 2014 to 2015, the first year after the paper discs were axed, with an increase of 278,025.
The figure in 2018 is higher than 2019 but last year’s figures run until the DVLA was asked for the information, in November.
Vehicle tax can be anything up to £1,000 or more per year, depending on how environmentally friendly the car is.
If a vehicle isn’t taxed, or its tax has run out and the driver doesn’t wish to renew it, the vehicle must be registered as off the road via a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN).
All motorists must tax their vehicles, even if they are a registered disabled driver and exempt from other fees.
Vehicle tax can no longer be transferred from one car owner to another so for anyone buying a used car, it will be untaxed.