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Answering your motoring issues.

Q It seems that the South Wales Police have sent me a summons to attend at Cardiff Magistrates' Court in respect of using a motor vehicle without a driving licence. I was stopped in my car by the police during a routine stop check by the police. I am now uncertain whether my driving licence was valid. What would you advise before the first court appearance? A It is an offence to drive a motor vehicle on a road without holding a licence to drive a vehicle of that class. The offence carries a fine, penalty points and a discretionary disqualification. The simple test is whether you hold a valid licence authorising you to drive the vehicle of the respective class. You must prove that you held the correct type of driving licence.

The prosecution will simply have to prove that you were driving the car on a road.

A driving licence is valid for the period stated unless it has been revoked by the DVLA or you have been disqualified by a court.

The police obviously have information that there is an issue in respect of your licence. Given that you have to prove that you hold the correct class of driving licence, I would advise that you make enquiries to the DVLA to ascertain whether there are any issues. It is possible that your licence has been revoked or there is some issue which needs clarification.

If you have any doubt about whether your licence is valid, you should take legal advice prior to appearing at the court.

Q The DVLA in Swansea has decided to prosecute me for using a motor vehicle on a road without car tax, but I do not believe that my car was on a public road. Can you give me general advice on this offence? A The motoring offence of using a motor vehicle without a vehicle excise licence is an offence of absolute liability, punishable by way of a fine.

This means that once the vehicle is proved to have been kept upon or used on a public road without the appropriate licence, an offence has been committed. There are relatively settled definitions of both "using" or "keeping" and "public road" although the exact facts of every case should be considered to ensure that there is potential legal argument.

Where a vehicle has been unlicensed for 12 months or less and prior to the case being brought to the magistrates' court, the DVLA can offer a mitigated penalty. This would avoid being prosecuted in court. The exact facts of your case would have to be considered, most importantly the circumstances in which your vehicle was using the road.

Jon Wilkins is a specialist Motoring Law and Criminal Defence solicitor practising across South Wales. Contact him at or call 029 2045 0500.

You can also follow him on Twitter @MotorLawSol
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 11, 2013
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