Articles in two recent editions of the Mail on Sunday have sparked fears for thousands of powered wheelchair and mobility scooter users. The items referred to legislation stating that Class 3 vehicles such as these should be registered with the DVLA.
One Mail on Sunday item said that 'many of Britains 250,000 scooter users are failing to provide their details to the DVLA but police and local authorities are turning a blind eye and that owners of mobility scooters who fail to register their vehicles will face fines in a Government clampdown.
The fact is that there is no new legislation on the registration of these vehicles, it has been in place for some years under the terms of Schedule 2 of the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994. This states that 'powered wheelchairs and scooters, along with other electrically propelled vehicles, are exempt from excise duty, but should display a valid "exempt from taxation" vehicle excise license.
A Review of Class 2 and Class 3 Powered Wheelchairs and Powered Scooters which was prepared for the Department for Transport and published in February this year found that "such vehicles should be registered, but this requirement is not currently enforced in any way, and is rarely adhered to". To date, there has never been a prosecution for failure to register a powered wheelchair or scooter.
Indeed up until the first item appeared, many at the DVLA might have been unaware of the legislation and procedures to be followed. Manufacturers and dealers will now be encouraged to make sure users know about their legal responsibilities.
The legislation refers to Class 3 vehicles only, specifically powered wheelchairs, and other outdoor powered vehicles, including scooters, for use on roads/highways with a maximum speed limit of 8mph and facility to travel at 4mph on footways.
Class 1 & 2 vehicles - manual wheelchairs and powered wheelchairs/scooters for footway use only with a maximum speed of 4mph - do not have to be registered.
Users should obtain form V55/4 for a new vehicle or V55/5 for a used vehicle from their local DVLA office or from the Swansea Agency on 0870 240 0010 (it is not available at post offices). Vehicles should be registered in the Disabled Tax Class and no fee is payable. There is no requirement for a registration plate but the tax disc should be displayed.
Currently there is no legal requirement for these vehicles to be insured although it is highly recommended. Specialist packages are available although some users may be covered on their household policy for fire, theft, damage and public liability. Do check carefully as the cover under some policies does not extend to outside of the home.