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Buying a car this weekend? It may be illegal to drive

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
The DVLA site and phone lines will be down this weekend which means if you’re buying a second-hand car, you won’t be able to drive it home and could face a hefty penalty.

As part of a systems upgrade, the DVLA website and phone contact centre will be down from 3pm on Friday 17 August until 6am on Monday 20 August.

While the service will be down for 10 hours over the course of the weekend, it may severely impact some users.

Anyone buying a second-hand car this weekend will not be able to buy road tax (Vehicle Excise Duty VED) either online or via the phone lines.

And you won’t be able to buy it from the Post Office either as it also uses the DVLA systems. This means legally, without valid road tax, you won’t be able to drive the vehicle.

If you’re caught driving without valid car tax, you could be stopped by police where you face an on-the-spot £80 fine, you may need to attend court and you could also face an up to £1,000 penalty. Your car could also be clamped which could add further expense and bother.

Since October 2014, changes to VED mean road tax is no longer transferable on ownership, so if you buy a used car, you as the new owner are responsible for taxing the vehicle.

However, the DVLA said that if you’re buying a new car, they will already be taxed so buyers won’t be affected.

For anyone looking to apply for or renew a driving licence, you won’t be able to do it online or via the DVLA phone lines next weekend. However, you can do this at the Post Office.

The DVLA confirms that for holidaymakers looking to request a code to share their driving history with third parties, such as when hiring a car, this service will still be up and running.

The DVLA said it chose this weekend for the planned maintenance and upgrade to the service as it tends to be quiet, ahead of the busier September period when new car registrations come out.

A spokesperson, said: “We are undertaking planned, essential systems maintenance between 3pm Friday 17 and 6am Monday 20 August.

“Customers should plan ahead and, where possible, use our services in advance. We’re sorry for any inconvenience.”

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