MOT backlog: East Antrim MLA calls for drivers to be made exempt from fines

Drivers are facing waits for MOT tests of up to two months at many centres in Northern Ireland
Drivers are facing waits for MOT tests of up to two months at many centres in Northern Ireland

Calls have been made for motorists caught out by the long waiting times for an MOT test to be made exempt from fines for not paying their car tax.

Drivers are unable to tax their vehicle without an MOT but, despite waiting times of up to two months for a vehicle inspection appointment, some motorists are being issued with fines for failure to pay their tax.

Roy Beggs MLA.

Roy Beggs MLA.

East Antrim UUP MLA Roy Beggs said drivers are being ordered to pay £40 fines, rising to £80 if it’s not paid within a short period of time.

He is calling for motorists unable to tax their car due to the MOT backlog to be made exempt.

Mr Beggs said: “Of course if you haven’t got an MOT then you can’t get taxed. Then, because of the MOT waiting times you have a car which is off the road for some time.

“First of all, there’s a cost to individuals of having a car which may be in perfectly good working order off the road because of the backlog.

“But the problem is, if your car is untaxed, you are supposed to make a SORN declaration – a Statutory Off-Road Notification. People are being fined for failing to make these SORN declarations.

“The wait times for MOT tests are now around eight weeks. They’re clearly not managing this.”

He added: “The Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) in Northern Ireland, under the Department for Infrastructure, looks after the MOTs. The DVLA in Swansea (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) are responsible for car tax. If they were talking to each other we wouldn’t be in this situation.

“I will be pushing for exemptions from these SORN fines for those unable to get an MOT.”

A spokesperson for the DVA in Northern Ireland said, in a statement to the BBC, the DVLA is “aware” of the current issues with the MOT backlog.

The DVA said it has asked the DVLA to “consider whether there are any measures” that can be taken to address the vehicle tax problem.