Can an MOT Tester withhold your keys?

Posted on August 17th, 2018 by Rob Marshall

Can an MOT Tester withhold your keys?

With the new MOT being introduced relatively smoothly, there have been some concerns that certain garages are placing motorists under pressure, by ‘holding them to ransom’ to have repairs made.


An issue of liability

It has always been illegal to drive a car on the highway that is unroadworthy and this is the responsibility of the driver.

Yet, the new MOT regime, from May 2018, has defined Dangerous Defects far clearer than ever before (as pictured) and a car that has failed on such should not be driven on the road, even if the original MOT certificate has not quite expired. To do so would be to commit a criminal offence.

However, some garages are concerned that they could be accused of being complicit in the crime, if they permitted the customer to drive away after their car has failed the MOT on a dangerous defect, without it being rectified.


The official line

The DVSA’s MOT Service Manager, Neil Barlow, provides some clarification for drivers, mechanics and garage owners and told GEM:

“DVSA’s priority is to help everyone keep their vehicle safe to drive.


It is now, and has always been, illegal to drive a dangerous car and the responsibility lies with the motorist to make the right decision and not drive the vehicle until it’s safe.


Some motorists won’t behave responsibly  and, as was the case prior to the changes, garage staff can’t stop them – but they should be clear in the advice they’re providing.


Given garages have no authority to withhold a motorist’s keys, or access to their vehicle, we do not believe they can be considered complicit or to be aiding, or abetting, the use of the car. It is the motorist’s responsibility to behave appropriately and take the advice given.”