Can you drive a car without an MOT?

Last updated June 09, 2023

You cannot drive a car without an MOT unless it has MOT exemption (or in other limited circumstances). Read our guide for a full explanation of the laws around driving without an MOT – and the penalties that may apply if you are caught doing so.

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What are the rules around driving a car without an MOT?

If your vehicle does not have a valid MOT certificate, you cannot drive it for everyday use. It is also illegal to drive to a scrapyard with no MOT.

There are only two scenarios in which you can drive a car without a valid MOT certificate:

  • If you are driving to a pre-booked MOT appointment at a test centre.
  • If you are driving to an approved garage to rectify faults highlighted by a failed MOT test.

However, you cannot drive a car that has failed its MOT (even for the reasons listed above) if any ‘dangerous’ faults were highlighted during the last MOT. If you want to take a ‘dangerous’ vehicle for repairs or an MOT re-test, your only option is to have it towed.

What about parking without an MOT?

If your vehicle’s MOT has expired, you cannot park it on a public road. Instead, you must leave your vehicle parked on private property (e.g. in a garage or on your driveway).

Remember, if you park or drive your car on public roads, it must be taxed, insured – and MOT certified. However, you cannot tax a car without an MOT - and you cannot drive without valid insurance.

If you choose to sell your MOT failure, bear in mind that the vehicle cannot be driven. Either you or the new owner will need to arrange for the vehicle to be towed at the point of sale.

What are the penalties for driving without an MOT?

If you are caught driving without a valid MOT, you can expect to receive a £100 Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) - although you could be fined up to £1,000.

The maximum fine is increased to £2,500 if your vehicle is classified as ‘dangerous’ or has serious faults. In addition, you may receive three penalty points on your driving licence.

If you are caught driving without an MOT twice within a three-year period, you may even be handed a six-month driving ban.

Please see our guide to MOT fines for a full explanation of the various penalties that may apply.

How do the police detect cars with no MOT?

It's estimated that there are over 10,000 Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras in the UK.

These advanced speed cameras are mounted onto police vehicles – and are also installed on motorways, main roads and car parks. ANPR cameras can detect when a vehicle does not have a valid MOT certificate by checking its registration against the DVLA’s database.

As a driver, it is your responsibility to get your vehicle MOT tested on an annual basis, before its current certificate expires. You can check your MOT expiry date by entering your reg number into our free MOT check tool.