AM Online

Plates cause confusion

Dealers are concerned about the legality of trade plates after a garage was fined £97 for taking an untaxed ex-demonstration vehicle on a test drive.

Reported on AM-online two weeks ago, the story has prompted concerns from dealers about the risk of being fined while displaying trade plates on untaxed vehicles.

The vehicle, which had been declared SORN, was caught by a mobile camera unit while out on a test drive. Despite appealing on the grounds that it was being used for trade purposes, the fine was upheld by the licensing office.

Dealers are not required to apply for a SORN for part-exchange vehicles, as these are not the property of the dealership. Ex-demonstration vehicles, which are registered to the dealer, must either be taxed or declared SORN while in their possession. Once a vehicle has been declared off-road it is illegal to use it, even for trade purposes.

This is confirmed by information the DVLA website, which claims: “Motor traders who have vehicles temporarily in their possession in the course of their business are not required to make a SORN unless the vehicle is registered in their name.

“When SORN has been declared for a vehicle the registered keeper must ensure that it will not be used or kept on a public road until a new licence has been taken out. The declaration will be valid for 12 months unless the vehicle is re-licensed, sold, permanently exported or scrapped. An untaxed vehicle cannot be used or kept on a public road.”

The only exceptions are taking the vehicle to a pre-arranged MoT, vehicle identity check or weight testing facility, provided the dealer has adequate insurance to cover the journey. Test drives are not included.

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