DVLA, DriveWrite Automotive

The DVLA – And All Who Sail In Her.

As we know, the sensible thinking behind the phrase “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” rarely applies to anything any government does at any given time. Usually and disingenuously they like to tell us that changes are for our own good yet in reality this rarely seems to be the case.

Take the DVLA (please). With a reliance upon digital technology that isn’t matched by their ability to use it, the DVLA sounded the death knell of the tax disc in 2014 believing and assuming that putting the whole business on line somehow makes it better. Events have proved otherwise.

Of course, many millions of VED transactions go through without issue, mine included; but such are the horror stories emerging from the masses that we must assume that things are not quite as hunky dory as we are told. The effect of this is that a survey (by Motoring.co.uk) revealed that 81% of us want the tax disc back.

We knew where we were with the tax disc. It was right there, on show, for Britain’s last remaining handful of coppers to note that the car was legal. It also served as a reminder to the owner that renewal was due. It worked; it was simple and a majority of us coughed up the readies without demur.

Using ANPR cameras is all very well but knowing that a car is untaxed is not the same as nabbing the blighter driving it. A car that is being driven illegally is unlikely to be left by the driver with a big ‘nick me’ sign on it. Often these illegal motors are not at the address for which they are registered anyway – so it doesn’t really work except to serve to spy on the honest motorist.

The new system has caused well documented problems during the buying and selling process too. The onus is upon us to sort out the tax arrangements the instant a used car is bought or sold. In olden times we bought the tax with the car. We still have to tell our DVLA masters that the transaction is made just as we used to. If the car wasn’t taxed we had leeway to get it sorted. Not any more.

This means that if one or other of the parties involved is slow to inform the DVLA then you could find yourself in the mire. This has happened more than you would imagine, even with a main dealer purchase. In one specific case the dealer did indeed tax the car at point of sale yet for some reason – some days later – the new owner, a pensioner, suddenly found himself miles from home (where his documents were) and suddenly clamped. The DVLA said his car was not taxed. This poor old guy was subsequently put through the wringer before the DVLA put their hands up to the error.

If your car has a tax disc then you know when it will expire. There’s nothing wrong with ordering and paying for your new one online, it’s easy, so why not continue as it used to be? The DVLA says the new system saves money and so it does, but consider this: The number of cars untaxed on our roads has trebled and the amount of cash HM Govt said they would save – £7m – is dwarfed by the amount of money they have lost through unpaid VED since the new scheme started – £80m. They make some of that up by flogging your personal details to, well, whoever is prepared to pay for it really.

As with so many things these days it is the public that has to sort out these official ‘errors’ often at some inconvenience and expense. Drivers are guilty until they prove themselves innocent. This can’t be right, can it? Geoff Maxted