Can a TOR be issued to an unattended vehicle?

04 December 2019

Not reviewed after the date of publication

Question:

Can an officer issue a Traffic Offence Report to an unattended vehicle for the offence using a motor vehicle without a test certificate?

Answer:
For the offence of use of a motor vehicle without a test certificate, an offence is still committed when a vehicle is parked on a road, as per the case of Plumbien v Vines 1995.

Traffic Offence Reports (TORs ) may be given for the offence of no MOT, as this offence is a summary road traffic offence. The purpose of a TOR is to enable police officers to quickly process minor driving offences. An officer issuing a TOR must have the belief that there is sufficient evidence to prosecute the person for an offence. The TOR is then processed by the Central Ticket Office who determines the best course of action to take against the person. The action could be the issuance of a fixed penalty ticket, a summons for a court appearance, or the offer of a discretionary course (dependent on what the offence is).

In our opinion, a TOR could not, however, be issued to an unattended vehicle that is suspected of being driven without an MOT. An officer who finds an unattended vehicle parked on a road, believing that vehicle to have been driven to that location, without the vehicle having an MOT, would first need to take reasonable steps to identify the driver of the vehicle by identifying and contacting the registered keeper of that vehicle. Section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 outlines the duty to give information as to the driver when certain offences have been committed, which subsequently applies to this offence. If the officer then believes that there is sufficient evidence to prosecute a person for the offence, it is our view that a TOR could then be issued, informing the person there is sufficient evidence to prosecute for the specified offence. The Central Ticket Office would then determine the course of action to be taken against the person for those offences, being either to issue a fixed penalty or summons to court in relation to the offences identified (e.g no MOT, no insurance).

We are aware that different forces have adopted different policies in relation to the issue of a TOR. Some Central Ticket Offices will cancel a TOR issued to an unattended vehicle; they require driver details to be obtained. Generally in such forces, TORs are issued in relation to offences for which a diversionary course is an option e.g. speeding and the Speed Awareness Course.

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