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Difference Between Minor and Serious Vehicle Defects

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 21 Jan 2015 | comments*Discuss
Motor Vehicle Defects Minor Major Road

Defects to a motor vehicle can be classed as either minor or major defects. The level of defect can have a significant bearing on the punishments imposed for this type of motoring offence.

What can be Classed as Minor Vehicle Defects

Motor vehicle defects such as Faulty Lights or slightly defective tyres can be classed as minor vehicle defects. This type of defect may not be life threatening to the driver or other road users over the short term. If stopped, the police will usually check the vehicle over looking for other vehicle defects. In the past, motorists with minor defects were usually given a verbal warning and told to fix the problem. But resolving this problem now falls under the Vehicle Defect Rectification Scheme.

The Vehicle Defect Rectification Scheme

Motorists who are Stopped By the Police because of minor vehicle defects can expect to be permitted to rectify the defect. Under the Vehicle Defect Rectification Scheme (VDRS) drivers are given the chance to rectify minor vehicle defects. If the driver does not fix the minor defect they can face prosecution. The VDRS is a voluntary scheme under which the vehicle must be presented to the police once the defect has been corrected within 14 days of being stopped. Failure to rectify the vehicle defect problems can mean Penalty Points applied and fines.

Driving With Major Motor Vehicle Defects

Any motorist who drives with major motor vehicle defects is putting their life and the lives of other road users at serious risk. Faulty Brakes, major tyre defects, mechanical problems such as steering, major body defects and emission problems can all be classed as major motor vehicle defects. Using a motor vehicle in a dangerous condition is a serious offence and can lead to fines of up to £2,500 and three penalty points. Major vehicle defects can also lead to an obligatory disqualification of a minimum six months. Drivers who carry passengers or large goods vehicles can expect increased fines and punishment consequences.

Ignorance of Vehicle Defects is no Defence

Drivers cannot claim that they were not aware of motor vehicle defects in the hopes of reducing punishment. Drivers are expected to keep their vehicles in a roadworthy condition and free from all defects. Drivers should always check that vehicles are defect free before driving. If a driver is stopped when driving a vehicle with serious defects the police can impound the vehicle on the spot. Drivers should remember that an MOT certificate may not mean that the vehicle will be free from defects for the life of the certificate.

Driving Without an MOT Certificate

Any vehicle that has major defects is unlikely to pass a Ministry of Transport (MOT) test. Driving Without an MOT is not seen as a major driving offence and will usually lead to a fine of up to £1000. Penalty points or disqualifications will not usually be applied. But driving without an MOT will mean that the vehicle will not be covered by the driver’s insurance company. This means a driver can be charged with driving without insurance, driving without an MOT and driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition.

Safety Checks for Vehicle Defects

Drivers should carry out their own quick safety checks to ensure that vehicles are roadworthy. These safety checks are especially important for commercial vehicles and should include:

  • Fuel including fuel caps, oil and water checks
  • Checking wheel nuts and tyres
  • Mirrors, indicators, washers, wipers and horn check
  • Speedometer, steering, windscreen cracks and brakes
  • Seatbelts, lights and battery
Driving a vehicle with either minor or major defects can make a significant difference to the punishment for these offences. Driving with major vehicle defects can bring severe consequences for other road users and pedestrians. Fixing these defects may cost money but the consequences of driving with major or even minor vehicle defects can be significantly more than financial.

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@julie. It's usually the driver who is responsible for maintenance/vehicle checks. If he was faced with a drive it or be sacked problem then he should seek legal advice.
NoPenaltyPoints - 23-Jan-15 @ 2:08 PM
My son was working for a company who despite his protests did not repair the works van he was driving. He was stopped and now has been sent a letter to attend court of plea guilty by post. He had no choice but to drive the van or be sacked. He has since left the company, but is likely to get points and a huge fine. Is there any thing we can do as it wasn't his vehicle?
Julie - 21-Jan-15 @ 8:04 PM
Given fixed penalty notice for a defective tyre , l felt this unfair as initially the officer stated ALL of my tyres were defective. My spare tyre was good but he allowed me to drive off with the "defective tyre still on the vehicle " surely if tyre was ILLEGAL he should have told me to change it with my spare. Had l had an accident immediately after leaving the officer my insurance may have been void. If l go to court on this to defend on the basis that if my tyre was illegal he acted illegally allowing me to drive away or by the fact he allowed me to drive away was my tyre illegal ?
dave - 21-Jun-11 @ 10:46 AM
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