According to an annual report by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), there has been a 166% rise in vehicle clamping over the past three years because of drivers failing to pay their vehicle excise duty (VED). That’s a two-fold increase in clamping since the road tax disc was abolished in 2014.

In the last year alone, nearly 160,000 vehicles were clamped or towed away. This compares with roughly 60,000 vehicles clamped per year before the paper tax disc was consigned to the history books.

The report also highlights that in the three years to April 2017, out of court settlements for unpaid VED shot up by 168%. Over that period, the number of penalties issued also increased (by 155%), while prosecutions leapt by 159%. More sobering still is that drivers have been fined up to £800 for non-payment of VED.

Evasion, confusion – or just plain forgetfulness?

Evasion, confusion and forgetfulness are all being blamed for the upturn in clamping. Either motorists are deliberately trying to play the system, aren’t aware they need to pay VED when they buy a car privately, or are simply forgetting to pay the tax altogether. Some motoring groups are concerned that the lack of a tax disc in windscreens means that some drivers don’t have the visual reminder that a VED payment is due. According to the AA’s Jack Cousens,

“Although the majority get a reminder by post, some won’t as they have failed to inform DVLA of a change of address, while others simply get lost in the post.”

Perhaps the best solution for those who are forgetful is to take advantage of the DLVA’s option to pay VED by monthly direct debit. It means that the absent-minded motorist need never miss a payment again.

Motoring groups also believe that part of the problem is caused by consumers buying cars in a private sales. Previously, the tax would automatically continue, but now the new owner must ensure that their purchase is taxed before they head out on the road. As the RAC Foundation’s Phil Gomm points out:

“The data suggests there are still too many people unaware that when they buy a car the tax no longer comes with it.”

Clamping down on dodgers

Alas, some drivers simply believe that they can game the system and not bother to pay at all. The reason? They believe it’s far more difficult for the authorities to catch them, as a tax disc no longer has to be displayed.

However, the DVLA argues that automatic number plate recognition cameras will spot VED dodgers. It is standing firm on the changes to how the duty is collected – and on the punishments it hands out to those who fail to pay. After all, the DVLA claims that it is losing £78 million in revenue because of the problem. That’s a sizeable chunk of the £5.9 billion raised by the duty each year. A DVLA spokesperson commented,

“It’s easier than ever before to tax your vehicle, and more than 98 per cent of vehicles on the road are correctly taxed. The law is clear and that is why we take action against those who break the law on behalf of the taxpayer.”

To ensure that you are fully paid up, head here to tax your vehicle. Alternatively, check to see if the vehicle is taxed already by clicking here. Bear in mind that any changes to the DLVA’s records can take up to five working days to update.

How to pay your fine

If you are fined for the non-payment of VED, there are several options for paying the fine quickly. Doing so ensures you don’t fall foul of further DVLA penalties. Such penalties can include having your car clamped or crushed. DLVA can also pass your outstanding fine to a debt collection agency to ‘administer.’

Pay online

Click here to begin the process – remember, you will need the DVLA letter that states the fine to be paid, as well as your car’s registration number and the debit or credit card you intend to use to pay the fine.

Pay by phone

Call the DVLA direct on 0300 790 6808 on weekdays between 9am-5pm. Again, have your DVLA letter, registration number and payment card to hand.

Pay by post

You can send a cheque or postal order made payable to the DVLA. Ensure you write your registration number on the back before posting it to:

DVLA Enforcement Centre
D12 Longview Road
SA99 1AH

– Should the clamping increase be ignored because the responsibility should be on the driver, not the DVLA? Or should the agency reintroduce the tax disc to help people remember more easily and make it harder for VED dodgers? Let us know your thoughts below.

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