Appeal for period of grace over MoT centre bookings

Appeal for period of grace over MoT centre bookings

7 August 2019

A LOCAL politician has called on a leading government department to allow drivers who have been given a date for an MoT test to continue driving pending the examination.

The appeal for a “period of grace” by Rowallane area councillor Billy Walker comes after drivers have been urged to ensure that they apply for their annual MoT test in plenty of time so their vehicles will be examined before the current end of their expiry date.

Cllr Walker said there is mounting concern about the backlog of MoT tests, with many drivers unable to secure a test date before their current certificate expires.

While the Department for Infrastructure has warned drivers that there will be no “period of grace” if the MoT runs out on their vehicle before they can secure an appointment, the Rowallane politician hopes there will be a change of heart.

He revealed that Strangford MP Jim Shannon has raised the issue with the government department’s permanent secretary, asking for drivers to be allowed to drive — if their MoT has expired — until the vehicle has been tested.

“I believe that if a driver has secured a date for a test and there will be a short period between the current certificate expiring and the vehicle examination taking place that they should remain on the road,” said Cllr Walker.

“I know one man whose certificate expired on Monday, but the test date he has been given is 22 days later. It is my understanding that the driver is one of many hundreds who find themselves in this situation.”

Cllr Walker said as things currently stand, anyone driving their vehicle without a valid certificate will be breaking the law, even if they cannot get a date before their MoT lapses.

In addition, the Department for Infrastructure has confirmed that it is not considering any exemptions and will instead continue adding additional Sunday appointments over the summer.

Motorists have also been urged to make sure that they turn up for their test as there were 644 no-shows for appointments between June 10 and June 16, despite knowledge of the growing problems in securing a test time.

The Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) opened a number of test centres on a Sunday last month, with

planning underway to make MoT appointments available for a further four Sundays in August to address the current backlog in applications.

The DVA also hopes to allocate additional slots on a daily basis as and when they become available, with the Department for Infrastructure reaffirming its position that it “is not considering the use of exemptions at this time”.

Cllr Walker said drivers were having to wait many weeks for an appointment, leaving many running the risk of driving without an MoT. He said this was why he believed drivers should be granted a dispensation and appealed to motorists to make sure they attend scheduled appointments to help clear the current backlog.

He said drivers who had been given a date which was beyond the expiry date of their current MoT certificate should be allowed to drive “without fear of being prosecuted”. 

He added: “The backlog of applications is causing problems but this is not the fault of the motoring public and it should not be penalised. In my opinion, vehicle owners should be regarded as the innocent party in all this.

“It seems clear that an unprecedented demand in applications has left many people waiting weeks for an appointment and I believe there is a need for common sense to prevail. If a driver has secured a date for an MoT test and the current certificate for the vehicle has expired, they should be continued to allow to drive, if the time difference is only a few weeks.”

The Department of Infrastructure has confirmed that it is is continuing to encourage motorists to book their MoT test as soon as they receive the reminder notice.

Bookings changes can be made at or by calling 0345 247 2471.