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Defect Penalties if Stopped by The Police

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 29 Oct 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Defect Dangerous Condition Roadworthy

For many years now Traffic Police in the UK have been putting their powers to good use protecting drivers and pedestrians on our roads.

Your Responsibility as a Motorist

You as a motorist have a responsibility to make sure that the car you are driving is roadworthy and if more than 3 years old has a valid MOT Certificate. It is important that you keep your car in good condition as apart from costing you more money to run, it can also save you some bother with the local police, should they happen to see you sprinting past with your bumpers hanging off, or hear your bald tyres screeching around a corner.

For both safety and environmental reasons, the law has set up a number of regulations with the purpose of governing the construction and use of vehicles.

Under the Road Traffic Act of 1998 it is an offence to:

“Use, cause or permit another to use a motor vehicle or trailer on a road which might for whatever reason, involve a danger of injury to any person”.

Roadside Checks

Every year the police perform thousands of roadside checks. Of the cars checked, a large number are found to be un-roadworthy and many drivers are surprised to find themselves paying a fine for committing an offence that they didn’t even realise existed - such as letting the reservoir for the window wash run dry.

The most common offences committed are:

  • Using a vehicle in a dangerous condition
  • Using a vehicle with Faulty Brakes
  • Using a vehicle with defective tyres
  • Using a vehicle with faulty lights

What Happens if you are Stopped?

If the police see you driving and think that there may be something wrong with your car, then they are entitled to request that you pull over so that they can have a better look at it and if appropriate, discuss the issue with you.

Upon stopping a motor vehicle, the police officer must tell the driver immediately, if possible, the reason for the stop – e.g. because there is a crackdown on not wearing seatbelts, there is an road safety campaign checking on defective tyres etc, or simply because they spotted that one of the brake-lights wasn’t working.

The officer(s) will probably look over your car and try to spot any other obvious problems. To give you an idea what they will be looking for, check out the list below:

Police Vehicle Defect Form

  • No wing/mudguard fitted
  • No speedometer
  • Defective speedometer
  • No mirrors
  • No windscreen wipers
  • Defective windscreen wipers
  • No windscreen washers
  • No horn
  • No seat belts
  • No anchorage points
  • Seat belts not properly maintained ?
  • Petrol tank not secure or leaf-proof
  • Glass not as prescribed?
  • Not equipped with suitable/sufficient springs?
  • Diesel engine - excess fuel device not maintained
If your vehicle has a visible defect, or one listed above, then you may be issued with a Vehicle Defect Rectification Notice. This has replaced the old unofficial scheme where in the case of minor defects the police used to give verbal warning to the driver and ask them to put the defect right.

The VDRN scheme is voluntary. It involves the police giving the motorist a form, which explains what the defect is. The driver must rectify the defect and submit the vehicle for inspection by an approved garage. The result of the inspection is completed on the form, which must be returned to the police within 14 days otherwise the motorist will face prosecution. Please remember that if your car is considered to be in a dangerous condition, you will get penalty points and could face disqualification.

Above all remember that it is you as the driver who has responsibility for putting the car on the road and the onus is on you to check that the car was in a roadworthy state before you set off on your journey. If you are found and charged with driving a car that is not in a reasonable state or has clear defects, you will be punished accordingly, depending on the severity of the defect.

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Char - Your Question:
I have realised today that my brake light is not working. Can I drive to Halfords to buy a brake light for my car? Due to where I am there is no public transport so if I don't drive I'm a bit stuffed, however I am aware that it is illegal to drive with a brake light out, hence why I would like to buy one and replace it!

Our Response:
No, it would be illegal to drive without a functioning brake light and if you were stopped you'd probably be penalised or at the very least be issued with a VDRS notice. You could try asking someone else to get you one? Or order one online?
NoPenaltyPoints - 30-Oct-17 @ 3:48 PM
I have realised today that my brake light is not working. Can I drive to Halfords to buy a brake light for my car? Due to where I am there is no public transport so if I don't drive I'm a bit stuffed, however I am aware that it is illegal to drive with a brake light out, hence why I would like to buy one and replace it!
Char - 29-Oct-17 @ 11:18 AM
Gary - Your Question:
I was stopped for a random spot check by traffic police.They found 3 defects and handed me a VDRS and told me I had 14 days to submit.The form had no return address on the back and as the police officer did not have the correct form, he told me to hand it in to him at the local station and he would deal with this.The work was done and I handed it in to the front desk for him as instructed, days later.6 months down the line, I have received a summons for prosecution regarding this.There is only a "plead guilty" or "not guilty" section in the paperwork. There's no chance to explain myself or what the circumstances were. Who can I turn to to resolve this? I've to respond before Nov 7th.

Our Response:
We can't really advise you which option to choose unfortunately. If you have evidence that you complied with the terms of the VDRS then that should be sufficient to avoid further penalty. Note also, that a VDRS can be issued together with a fixed penalty...are you sure you were not issued with such at the time?
NoPenaltyPoints - 25-Oct-17 @ 3:09 PM
I was stopped for a random spot check by traffic police.They found 3 defects and handed me a VDRS and told me I had 14 days to submit.The form had no return address on the back and as the police officer did not have the correct form, he told me to hand it in to him at the local station and he would deal with this.The work was done and I handed it in to the front desk for him as instructed, days later.6 months down the line, I have received a summons for prosecution regarding this.There is only a "plead guilty" or "not guilty" section in the paperwork. There's no chance to explain myself or what the circumstances were. Who can I turn to to resolve this? I've to respond before Nov 7th.
Gary - 23-Oct-17 @ 1:05 PM
SAC - Your Question:
HiI was stopped by police due to one of the front head lump wasn't working and most likely bulb had wear off while driving so I wasn't aware of the bulb not working.secondly they done a full check on me and the car and they told me two of the tyres are defective, which to me seems completely fine and it passed MOT as it is.Thirdly one of the rear plate number ink was peeling off but was readable and passed MOT as it is a few days later as mentioned above.NOW.after about 3 months I received 3 separate penalty letter for each issues. for the head light bulb the penalty is £100 + 3 penalty point.£50 for the tyres and another £100 for the defective plate number they claimed.so overall I got £250 penalty + 3points.Is this really fair? Although at the time of the incident I did ask the police what is the next step, they told me I may receive a waning letter with £100, thats all but it seems to be much than that.any advice would be great help.Thanks.Sumon

Our Response:
It sounds fair to us. If your MOT had only recently been done and passed (eg. within the past week or so), it might be worth taking it up with the MOT testing station - as this suggests they are not performing the tests adequately.
NoPenaltyPoints - 27-Sep-17 @ 10:23 AM
Hi I was stopped by police due to one of the front head lump wasn't working and most likely bulb had wear off while driving so i wasn't aware of the bulb not working. secondly they done a full check on me and the car and they told me two of the tyres are defective, which to me seems completely fine and it passed MOT as it is. Thirdly one of the rear plate number ink was peeling off but was readable and passed MOT as it is a few days later as mentioned above. NOW...after about 3 months I received 3 separate penalty letter for each issues. for the head light bulb the penalty is £100 + 3 penalty point. £50 for the tyres and another £100 for the defective plate number they claimed. so overall I got £250penalty + 3points. Is this really fair? Although at the time of the incident i did ask the police what is the next step, they told me i may receive a waning letter with £100, thats all but it seems to be much than that. any advice would be great help. Thanks. Sumon
SAC - 25-Sep-17 @ 1:27 PM
babybell187 - Your Question:
Hi there, I am looking for some help please!I received a NIP at the end of June, (35MPH) sent it back signed stating I was the driver and would like to choose the SAC option but as yet have had nothing back?It has been at least 11 or 12 weeks and no correspondence from the police. I can't even get hold of anyone on the phone to chase this up.I am panicking that I will get convicted when I have sent the forms off?Does it usually take this long?Thank you :)

Our Response:
You usually hear back within a few weeks but the police actually have up to 6 months in which to initiate action. It could be that they have decided not to take any further action (assuming you were doing 35 in a 30 zone). Trying to contact them would put your mind at rest of course.
NoPenaltyPoints - 14-Sep-17 @ 2:15 PM
Hi there, I am looking for some help please! I received a NIP at the end of June, (35MPH) sent it back signed stating I was the driver and would like to choose the SAC option but as yet have had nothing back? It has been at least 11 or 12 weeks and no correspondence from the police. I can't even get hold of anyone on the phone to chase this up. I am panicking that I will get convicted when I have sent the forms off? Does it usually take this long? Thank you :)
babybell187 - 13-Sep-17 @ 9:30 AM
chris - Your Question:
I recieved an NIP for doing 79mph in a 70mph on the dual cariiageway A303, at 09.30 am on the 03/06/17.the camera used was an lti 20.20 ultralyte 1000, presumably in a van on the opposite carriageway catching people driving in the opposite direction judging by the pics provided to me online.One thing I have noticed is that the calibration certificate provided to me was due for renewal in 18 days from the date I was clicked.I assume there was a downhill section of the road as my cruise control was set at 75mph and is very accurate according to GPS.What would you do?best wishes, Chris

Our Response:
We can't really comment on individual cases but even if you proved that your speed was actually 75 and not 79, the penalty might not be that much different. If the police decide to take further action you might be offered a speed awareness course or 3 points plus £100 fine either way.
NoPenaltyPoints - 30-Jun-17 @ 12:11 PM
I recieved an NIP for doing 79mph in a 70mph on the dual cariiageway A303, at 09.30 am on the 03/06/17. the camera used was an lti 20.20 ultralyte 1000, presumably in a van on the opposite carriageway catching people driving in the opposite direction judging by the pics provided to me online. One thing I have noticed is that the calibration certificate provided to me was due for renewal in 18 days from the date I was clicked. I assume there was a downhill section of the road as my cruise control was set at 75mph and is very accurate according to GPS. What would you do? best wishes, Chris
chris - 29-Jun-17 @ 12:58 PM
watapen - Your Question:
I was stopped near my home by unmarked bmw because unknown to me my offside tail light was out.My car is 4 years old and fully maintained and all lights where working that morning.I was issued a ticket and told by both police " dont worry my boss may just ask for proof of purchase of replacement bulb".I replaced the bulb next day and have the receipt.I then received a fixed penalty for £50 and 28 days to pay or attend court.I have been driving for 40 years and have no points.Is this fair ?

Our Response:
Unfortunately, £50 is the minimum fixed penalty for a vehicle defect and the police do have the powers to issue a VDRS (Vehicle Defect Rectification Scheme) notice together with a fixed penalty fine. The fact that the police officer didn't exactly tell you that is something you can't really do much about.
NoPenaltyPoints - 16-May-17 @ 1:54 PM
I was stopped near my home by unmarked bmw because unknown to me my offside tail light was out. My car is 4 years old and fully maintained and all lights where working that morning. I was issued a ticket and told by both police " dont worry my boss may just ask for proof of purchase of replacement bulb". I replaced the bulb next day and have the receipt. I then received a fixed penalty for £50 and 28 days to pay or attend court. I have been driving for 40 years and have no points. Is this fair ?
watapen - 15-May-17 @ 1:53 PM
Hi, I was stopped today because my rear lights were not working, although the top rear light (i have a hatch back) was working. The policeman who was extremely sarcastic told me I would either get a fine or have to go on a Traffic Awareness Course. Will my insurance go up as a result? I have over 10 years no claims bonus and no points on my license.
FS - 14-Jan-17 @ 9:08 PM
Hi, my car is coming up to 9 months old, I've had it from new and the horn has stopped working. The car brand are saying they can't fix it for 6 weeks, I've already been driving it for 4 weeks like this and believe it is becoming too dangerous. Only this morning I felt the annoyance of not having a horn when someone almost reversed into me. I couldn't do anything to notify them, I know its a legal requirement and I don't want to be driving it like this anymore. What would happen if I got stopped and tested for whatever reason? Does this invalidate my insurance? I'm trying to get them to supply a courtesy car but they're dragging their heels and refuse to help.
RJ - 6-Jan-17 @ 4:38 PM
Hi, I was driving my friends car (my insurance covers that) and been pulled over by police because the front fog lights were on which i didn't know as i was not familiar with that car dashboard, then he gone check the Tyre. the thread of the Tyre was not bad and still under the limit but one Tyre sidewall was little damaged which hardly can be seen in night. They did not gave me any paper work but took my license details and told me that i will receive ticket through mail and will get 3 points for that.
S Z - 1-Jan-17 @ 4:28 AM
Hi I was stopped today because my brake lights were not working. I Told the officers I would get it fixed immediately, but they still told me I would be sent a letter in the post. I had to sign something and that's when they allowed me to go. I thought they were very mean. Halfords was only down the road. Can I appeal?
L - 28-Dec-16 @ 5:57 PM
Yesterday i was stopped by a traffic police car. They issued me a fixed penalty fine of £50 for "Glass not as prescribed". My vehicle is a Renault Trafic Van, when i bought the van it had the windows already. The windows are factory fitted and NOT decals! I actually pleaded with the officer and stated that i will sort it...nah! It was a very dark murky day with patchy fog, the road surface is very greasy with road dirt and road salt. My vehicle is very very dirty.....apart from the License plates and lights....which i religously keep clean. The Police officer got his little gadget out and tested my very dirty windows....it failed. I have taken photos at the scene just in case i need it as evidence. What i want to know is.....can i contest the fine...and how? Ps....im a window cleaner as a trade.....so am fully aware of the statistics around light being able to pass through dirty glass!!
craig - 9-Dec-16 @ 12:47 PM
Olare - Your Question:
Hi, I was stopped by the police about an hour ago because the full headlights of my car is gone unknown to me and my traficator works partly. I was give a prohibition form pending when the lights and front tyre is fixed. Will I be prosecuted?

Our Response:
We really can't say. From what you've told us it go either way - we're sorry we can't give you any more information.
NoPenaltyPoints - 6-Dec-16 @ 12:14 PM
Hi, I was stopped by the police about an hour ago because the full headlights of my car is gone unknown to me and my traficator works partly. I was give a prohibition form pending when the lights and front tyre is fixed. Will I be prosecuted?
Olare - 5-Dec-16 @ 12:21 AM
jayde - Your Question:
Can somebody tell me if its illegal to drive my car without a rear windscreen wiper. I took my car for some maintenance and the garage said it could not do it at the mo so I had to get a local shop to order the part and hopefully fit it as I have to mot my car in January.

Our Response:
We don't know to be honest. In an MOT, all wipers are checked though. Usually if you have any equipment on your car designed to help with all round visibility such as mirrors, windscreens, wipers etc that is not working, you can be issued with a vehicle defect notice.
NoPenaltyPoints - 29-Nov-16 @ 2:29 PM
Can somebody tell me if its illegal to drive my car without a rear windscreen wiper. I took my car for some maintenance and the garage said it could not do it at the mo so i had to get a local shop to order the part and hopefully fit it as i have to mot my car in January.
jayde - 28-Nov-16 @ 7:13 PM
Hi police stopped me few weeks before they checked the tyre after that they found one tyre exposed and metal was cane out from internal side even they checked with lights now i got letter with £100 fixed penalty and 3 points is any chance to remove points if I go to court because I have clean license since I got it 2013 Please reply ASAP Many thanks
Dave - 25-Nov-16 @ 2:31 PM
Lou - Your Question:
I have the use of a company car, it has just had a service and all four tyres are getting close to the legal limit and have shown as red on the vehicle health check.My director, who has overall authority over the car has instructed me to not get the tyres replaced which are on 2mm of tread (as of 22Nov16) and told me to wait a few months. I can already feel the car slipping in the wet weather.As I've been instructed to wait, should the tyres drop to below the legal limit of 1.6mm and I get stopped because of it, who will have ultimate responsibility for maintenance of the car?I have a company car agreement which states:"2.9 The Employee is responsible for ensuring that the Vehicle is kepy clean (both inside and out) and is maintained in a roadworthy condition. The Company will reimburse all reasonable servicing and maintenance costs properly incurred on the production of garage invoices (subject to Clause 2.12).2.12 The Employee will promptly advise the Company in writing if any faults arise with, or damage occurs to, the Vehicle and obtain approval from the Company on how and when such faults or damage are to be rectified."I have already replaced two tyres because I felt they were unsafe and my company declined to replace them last year, I can't afford to replace all four tyres on this car, please advise where I stand with this!

Our Response:
Seek advice from an expert - when they inform you that the tyres need changing, get them changed, if your employer will not pay, you should say you are making a claim via the small claims court.
NoPenaltyPoints - 23-Nov-16 @ 10:44 AM
I have the use of a company car, it has just had a service and all four tyres are getting close to the legal limit and have shown as red on the vehicle health check. My director, who has overall authority over the car has instructed me to not get the tyres replaced which are on 2mm of tread (as of 22Nov16) and told me to wait a few months. I can already feel the car slipping in the wet weather. As I've been instructed to wait, should the tyres drop to below the legal limit of 1.6mm and I get stopped because of it, who will have ultimate responsibility for maintenance of the car? I have a company car agreement which states: "2.9 The Employee is responsible for ensuring that the Vehicle is kepy clean (both inside and out) and is maintained in a roadworthy condition. The Company will reimburse all reasonable servicing and maintenance costs properly incurred on the production of garage invoices (subject to Clause 2.12). 2.12 The Employee will promptly advise the Company in writing if any faults arise with, or damage occurs to, the Vehicle and obtain approval from the Company on how and when such faults or damage are to be rectified." I have already replaced two tyres because I felt they were unsafe and my company declined to replace them last year, I can't afford to replace all four tyres on this car, please advise where I stand with this!
Lou - 22-Nov-16 @ 2:23 PM
I was stopped by the police doing 61 in a 40. The officer told me he was going to report me. Iaccpted i was speeding slthough i didnt know by how. Just went with what the officer told me. I was given a ticket. The letter came through saying the case was being dealt by not appearing in court. I didn't want to waste the courts time and signed guilty and posted the letter within 21 days. Later on in realised there was the officers witness statement. After reading it is realised the officer wrote i was doing 61 in a 30 mile zone which wasn't the case as it was a dual carriageway Went back to check signs and it was written 40. Don't I have grounds to challenge the ticket?
Ruz - 20-Nov-16 @ 8:33 AM
Bigdave - Your Question:
I was followed by a car. I'm not sure if it was the cops as it was dark. If I was speeding, can the cops issue a ticket even though I was not stopped?

Our Response:
If they follow you using their own speed to measure yours, then they should stop you at the scene.
NoPenaltyPoints - 27-Oct-16 @ 2:04 PM
I was followed by a car.I'm not sure if it was the cops as it was dark.If I was speeding,can the cops issue a ticket even though I was not stopped?
Bigdave - 26-Oct-16 @ 12:21 PM
If i takes my speed awareness training and develop another speed ticket how is my next point and fined
Kubi - 21-Oct-16 @ 6:28 AM
Hi - I was stopped by police for driving without insurance yesterday. My insurance payment failed to be debited from account, insurance company sent me a letter which I had only just received but not read. My car was impounded with £150 release fee. If I was not told about possibility of any fixed penalty or points at the time, can I assume this will not be taken any further? Thank you for your help.
MJP - 19-Oct-16 @ 12:50 PM
Maxi - Your Question:
I was stop by a police for not putting my headlight on.am I gonna have point on my lience or fix penalty because I was told am gonna get £50 fine.but didn't get the ticket in hand.

Our Response:
If you're issued with a non-endorsable fixed penalty you'll get a fine of £50 but no points on your licence.
NoPenaltyPoints - 29-Sep-16 @ 10:34 AM
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