The Federation has argued that the DVLA process for enabling declaration of a vehicle as not being significantly changed at the time of re-licensing only, was one which could put drivers at risk of bureaucratic misunderstanding and leave them at risk from ill-briefed policeman.
We all became aware that a real example that had arisen and that the driver of a historic vehicle had received a Notice of Prosecution. The Federation urgently sought clarification of the position from the Department of Transport. We are glad to confirm that they responded promptly and positively and have provided us with the statement we copy here, which we think sets out the position clearly and succinctly and will be of real use to our members.
It may be that members who have concerns about this will wish to carry a copy of the DfT Statement in the vehicle.
We are still unhappy that the Vehicle Enquiry Service cannot show an accurate MOT status even after the registered keeper has filled in a Form V112 or checked the declaration page during online licensing. Currently it simply says, if the vehicle does not have an MOT, that no MOT information is available.
TR Action Technical Editor & VHI Liaison for the TR Register, Mike Jennings says:
The number of enquiries relating to what constitutes a "substantially changed" vehicle have tailed off to zero and I'd not expect much more unless there is a high-profile challenge somewhere in the classic vehicle community.
However, there has been at least one attempted prosecution for driving an exempt vehicle without a valid MoT. This all stems from the inability of the Police to get detailed information from the DVLA's Vehicle Enquiry Service. Following an urgent clarification request by the FBHVC, the DfT responded in January 2019 with a clarification, but unfortunately not a revised process that removes all doubt.
"There is no requirement, either intended or implied, that at the point a vehicle becomes 40 years old and providing the vehicle has not been substantially changed, for the owner to make a declaration to any statutory body, declaring that the vehicle is a vehicle of historic interest and is therefore no longer required to have a valid MoT certificate".
The declaration that a vehicle has not been changed will only be possible at the next re-licensing occasion and only then if the vehicle has no MoT. There was a suggestion that we should carry copies of the DfT documents to show the Police if challenged but I can't see this working too well on a wet and windy day on the hard shoulder of the M25. Perhaps a copy of the registration document to demonstrate its age?