Tax disc confusion hits motorists

Thousands of motorists are having their cars towed away and are being charged fines after unwittingly falling foul of car tax rule changes introduced by the DVLA, The Guardian has reported.

Figures obtained by Guardian Money reveal that DVLA clampings have risen dramatically since October, when the agency did away with paper vehicle excise duty discs.

Before the changes DVLA was clamping about 5,000 vehicles a month, but this has surged to more than 8,000 – with motorists horrified to discover their cars being towed away without even a warning letter from the agency. In total, more than 100,000 vehicles are likely to be clamped this year compared with 60,000 the year before.

While most motorists know that tax discs are no longer required, what is catching out many is that vehicle excise duty is automatically cancelled if a car changes ownership – even if there is a valid disc in the window.

Previously, anyone selling a used car could post adverts saying ‘Taxed and MOTd’ until a certain date. But now when a car is sold the tax, even if it has many months to run, automatically expires and the new owner has to tax it again. It is this change that is exposing drivers to clamping by the DVLA and large fines.

The DVLA says it has worked with motor traders and written to new owners to make them aware of the change, but plenty of motorists have found their vehicles clamped or towed away after being given a taxed car by a relative, or even swapping cars within a family. Those who are caught out have no right of appeal to an independent body and say that the DVLA is acting unfairly.