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repeal SORN continuous registration

Comment 16th August 2010

Number-recognition cameras on busy roads with computerised databases easily detect untaxed, uninsured, stolen, non-MOT vehicles or unpaid fines while camera patrol vans check quieter roads and parked vehicles. So there is very little justification for obsolete SORN rules or how DVLA implements them which can be easily repealed with no loss to public safety or car tax. Their strange rules anger and upset many drivers with numerous postings on forums and websites.

           SORN was designed (House of Lords 14 Nov 2003) “to trace vehicles involved in crime and to trace the keepers of abandoned vehicles, and to help to attack the problem of evasion of vehicle excise duty… The draft regulations will have no effect on law-abiding citizens who license their vehicles on time and are also not intended to catch those who may, through oversight or difficulty, buy their tax discs a day or two late…” DVLA amplified early 2004 “the Agency does not intend to persecute honest motorists but to crack down on offenders who repeatedly abuse system.”

            Yet DVLA persecute absent-minded motorists with no discretion and further invented a complicated system whereby unless they send a confirmatory letter of receipt, even posting a SORN is insufficient and motorists usually can’t successfully challenge this ludicrous unjustified  penalties in court without a solicitor. DVLA also didn’t implement an arbitration procedure and FAQ sheet requested by House of Lords. So DVLA act as judge and jury. Rarely do they exercise their promised discretion even where the persecuted motorist is patently honest.

            The whole system is governed by “strict liability” (mens rea) so even genuine mistakes are unfairly penalised while richer motorists with clever lawyers get off by technicalities. Yet the onus could very easily switched from harassed vehicle owners if DVLA would have to prove an intent to defraud as implied when law first introduced (House of Lords 14 Nov 2003).

Why does this matter?

With current technology, these rules are actually obsolete.  Judging by the numerous postings on consumer and motorists forums and websites, these strange rules anger and upset a large majority of drivers. Police and authority cannot function without public cooperation while badly framed and implented laws clumsly applied alienate that vital cooperation

Motorists should be penalised for dangerous driving not absentminded oversight; it is wrong in equity and common law to hound those who had no intention to defraud. it is doubly wrong to refuse arbitration, invent further arbitrary rules (such as proof of posting not legally required elsewhere) or even refuse publication of acceptable grounds for discretion. Currently the DVLA's entire procedure is Stalinist for the unwitting driver who gets caught by their arcane laws.

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