MOT tests in Northern Ireland: PSNI and DVA advise how to stay legal despite five month backlog

Authorities have moved to reassure drivers who cannot get an MOT test before their certificate expires how to avoid prosecution.

By Philip Bradfield
Thursday, 4th August 2022, 6:57 pm
Updated Friday, 5th August 2022, 8:07 pm
There is a backlog of up to five months for MOT test appointments in NI due to the pandemic.
There is a backlog of up to five months for MOT test appointments in NI due to the pandemic.

The News Letter checked yesterday how long it would take to get a fresh appointment for an MOT test. Four centres gave dates in December, five in January, two in November and one in September.

The news comes after UUP Infrastructure Spokesperson John Stewart MLA called on the Infrastructure Minister John O’Dowd to provide urgent clarity and assurances to motorists facing lengthy delays in getting MOT tests.

Mr Stewart said: “Many people trying to get a test date are facing delays of literally months and are at serious risk of being unable to get their vehicles tested before their current MOT certificates expire.

“The delays are due to a combination of Covid shutdowns and equipment issues - MOT tests were suspended in January 2020 after concerns emerged over cracks in lift equipment.

“People are worried that their insurance might be invalidated if they were to be in an accident in a vehicle that has not passed an MOT. Furthermore, cars cannot be taxed without a valid MOT certificate.”

However the PSNI told the News Letter they would show discretion. Roads Policing Chief Inspector Graham Dodds said: “DVA will make every effort to secure a MOT test date for any motorist whose MOT is due to expire. In the event police encounter a vehicle with no current MOT, so long as we can ascertain that a vehicle is roadworthy, has a forthcoming MOT test date and is not SORNED [register as not in use], then police will not take any further action. Every driver has a responsibility to ensure their vehicle is roadworthy.”

A DVA spokesperson said it has increased its vehicle testing capacity to pre-Covid levels through recruitment, overtime, Sunday and bank holiday

“The DVA continues to experience significant demand for vehicle testing services and in some cases customers may not be able to have their vehicles tested before their current MOT certificate expires. In such cases, customers must book the earliest available test appointment for their vehicle, which may mean travelling to another test centre instead of their preferred location.”

It releases appointments on a daily basis and customers are encouraged to regularly check the booking system as they may be able to change their existing appointment. Furthermore, it has consulted with the PSNI and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) to “make them aware of the current situation and put appropriate mitigations in place”.

If a driver gets to within five days of the expiry date of their tax and have been unable to secure an appointment or their vehicle tax has expired, they should contact the DVA Customer Services team at [email protected] and they will do their best to get an urgent appointment for the vehicle.