Uninsured teenage motorist admonished after sheriff finds ‘special reasons’ for not endorsing licence

An 18-year-old motorist who was caught driving without insurance will not have his licence revoked after a sheriff found that there were “special reasons” for not endorsing it with penalty points.

Sheriff Philip Mann ruled that Kyle Siegel was entitled to assume that his mother had arranged for him to be insured to drive the vehicle despite the fact he failed to make any enquiry as to whether she had done so.

Lerwick Sheriff Court heard that Mr Siegel had committed the offence of using a motor vehicle without there being in force a valid policy of insurance to cover that use, in contravention of section 143 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

The vehicle in question was owned by Mr Siegel’s mother, although it was at his disposal and he was the main driver.

He entrusted the task of insuring the car for his use to his mother, but he was to be responsible for payment of the premium by monthly instalments.

His mother did arrange insurance cover and there was evidence that she obtained a quote which showed that she intended that her son be included on the policy as a named driver.

However, for some unexplained reason, when the policy was issued Mr Siegel was not included as a driver.

Mr Siegel did not make any specific enquiry of his mother as to whether or not insurance cover had been properly obtained, nor did he ask to see the policy, but the sheriff held that his failure to make any enquiry was not necessarily fatal to his position.

Sheriff Mann said: “He relied on his mother to arrange the insurance cover. She made arrangements which turned out not to be effective. The question is whether or not Mr Siegel was entitled to rely on his mother making effective arrangements and whether or not he had any reason to disbelieve that effective arrangements had been made.

“In my view, in the particular circumstances of this case, involving a young man of 18 years of age and his mother, Mr Siegel was entitled to rely on the arrangement that he had made with his mother and in the absence of any intimation by his mother to the contrary he was entitled to assume that the arrangement had proved to be effective. I do not consider that it was necessary for him to make any specific enquiry of his mother or to inspect the policy of insurance before taking to the road.”

The Crown argued that to accept special reasons existed in this case would set a “dangerous precedent”, but the sheriff said he had “no concerns” that his decision would set a precedent.

In a written judgment, Sheriff Mann said: “In terms of section 44 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 I must endorse Mr Siegel’s licence unless for special reason I think fit not to do so.

“The question whether or not special reasons exist is one of law. There is no discretion involved in answering that question. Either the facts of the case amount, in law, to special reasons or they do not.

“If they do, there is a discretionary power not to endorse. If they do not, then I must endorse.

“Nothing, at this stage, turns on the effect of endorsement on Mr Siegel’s ability to hold on to his licence. There is no discretion to take that into account in determining whether or not special reasons exist.”

He concluded: “In the whole circumstances of this case, I hold special reasons to exist. Accordingly and at this stage noticing that endorsement of even the minimum of six penalty points will have the effect that Mr Siegel, being a recently qualified driver, will have his driving licence revoked, I will exercise my discretion and refrain from endorsing penalty points on Mr Siegel’s licence.”

The sheriff also admonished him for the offence.

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