Compulsory car insurance law change 'won't work'

03/03/11

Phil Brown

New laws are coming into force which will make it illegal to keep a car uninsured, even if it's not being used.

Drivers will face a £100 fine and potentially have their car seized and destroyed, unless the vehicle is certified as off the road.

From today, the DVLA is including information about the changes when it sends out reminders for road tax.

The laws come into force in England, Scotland and Wales in late Spring.

It's previously only been illegal to drive uninsured, but critics say the new laws still aren't enough to put people off.

Phil Brown explained to Newsbeat why he drove with no insurance for a year.

'Ridiculous' premiums

"I decided to do it because I really didn't have any money."

The 25-year-old welder from Lincolnshire says he simply could not afford to pay the premiums insurance companies were quoting.

I'd plan to do it and put money aside and then other bills would come up
Phil Brown, 25

"I got a few insurance quotes and they were absolutely ridiculous prices," he said.

"So I thought, 'I should be all right, we'll see what we can do.'"

While he says he felt ashamed for driving with no insurance, he admits it wasn't until he got caught that he did anything about it.

He said: "Every month I was planning to get my insurance, get another quote and another quote.

"I'd plan to do it and put money aside and then other bills would come up."

'Slap on the wrists'

Phil explains it was a nervous 12 months.

Car wing mirror
Image caption Phil says driving without insurance was a nerve-wracking experience

"I was always looking in the rear-view mirror," he admitted. "There were a couple of touchy times, but I ended up coming out on top."

Eventually Phil was fined and given six points on his licence. He reckons he got off lightly.

He said: "I presumed that if I got caught I would get a fine, I thought it would be heftier than it was.

"I thought I'd probably get a ban, but I managed to get lucky.

"It was a slap on the wrists. I realise now that it was the wrong thing to do.

"I've paid the price for it, but luckily for me the price wasn't as big as it could have been."

New laws

Roads Minister Mike Penning told Newsbeat the new laws were designed to put people off driving without insurance.

"It is only £100 to start with," he said. "If you [still] don't insure the vehicle we will come to you again.

"This time we won't accept the £100 fine and we will take you to court."

This time we won't accept the £100 fine and we will take you to court
Roads minister Mike Penning

But road safety campaigners say the plans do not go far enough, and Phil agrees.

"I don't know if it'll put people off driving without insurance," he said.

"With the laws not really changing for people that are driving without insurance, if they don't care I don't think it'll make much difference to them.

"I don't know if it should be a ban. I think that would be a bit extreme.

"The government should look more at reducing the cost of insurance to the consumer."

Phil is now insured through his company and says he feels much better being properly covered.

"I'm more aware of it now," he said. "I'm covered up to the eyeballs on everything.

"If something goes wrong I'd want it paying for, so I make sure now I've got insurance for everything."