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How easy it is to lose your driving licence

You are going away for a well-deserved holiday and your best friend asks if he can borrow your car for a few days. You agree, because he is honest and reliable and you owe him a few favours anyway. After a wonderful holiday you return home to find that you are being prosecuted for a criminal offence, and you face a possible £5000 fine and 6 to 8 points on your driving licence! How on earth has this happened?

Simple. For one reason or another your friend has been stopped by the police and asked to produce his licence and insurance certificate; and either by accident or design it has turned out that he was uninsured. You may well think that this is his problem and not yours, but you could not be more wrong; if someone has driven your car without proper insurance, and with your permission, you have committed the offence of permitting a vehicle to be on a public road without a proper insurance policy being in force. You can argue that you didn't know that he wasn't uninsured, that you were certain that he would never do such a thing, and that had you known he was uninsured you would never have agreed to let him drive. It will make no difference whatsoever, you will still almost certainly have to appear before the magistrates.

If you talk to a solicitor you will probably be advised to plead guilty because the only defence would be to show that you not the driver at the time, that the person who was driving was doing so without your permission, and that you would not have given this permission in any case. In other words, you would have to accuse your friend of taking and driving away your car, and you would have to prove it to the satisfaction of the court.

When you are up before the bench they will want to know what steps, if any, you took in order to ensure that the driver was insured. If you made no attempt whatsoever, they will not be greatly impressed and any penalty you pay may well be increased. If you can convince them that you were completely, absolutely, totally certain that the driver was insured you may get away with a mere fine of £200 or so plus 6 points on your driving licence!

The moral of this tale is obvious; before you lend the car to anyone at all you must be absolutely certain that that person will be insured to drive a car at least during the time that it will be in his or her hands. If necessary, and if you are in any doubt at all, you should arrange a short term insurance policy to cover the loan period. Failure to do so could have very serious consequences for both your pocket and your driving licence; oh, and did I mention that your car could end up being impounded, too?

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