Vehicle Identity Checks for written-off cars being returned to the road have been scrapped, in a move that could save motorists millions.

The VIC was introduced in 2003 as a measure against ringing – where criminals swap the identity of a write-off onto a stolen car, making it easier to sell on.

According to the Department for Transport, advances in vehicle security deter the low-level criminals the VIC was aimed at and online resources render a paper check like the VIC redundant.

A VIC costs £41, plus the time it takes to deal with it. The DfT estimates that doing away with the checks will save individual motorists £9.7 million a year, while businesses will save £4.8 million.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “The government is on the side of the honest motorist which is why we are scrapping this scheme which flies in the face of common sense and creates an unnecessary burden. It will save motorists and businesses millions every year.”

Most Category C and D write-offs returned to the have been with the same owner for seven year or more – relatively few change hands after being written off. In the 12 years since the scheme was introduced a million checks have been carried out, but the DfT says only “a handful” of cases of wrongdoing have been uncovered.

Following the abolition of the VIC, the DVLA will no longer issue a V5 for cars that are classed as Cat A and B write-offs, which can’t be put back on the road.

While we applaud removing a layer of bureaucracy and expense for motorists, we’re not entirely sure doing away with the VIC is a good thing. The black market for stolen cars has changed in the last decade or so, the focus now seeming to be on high-end cars that are exported to Africa, mostly. Ringers typically target plentiful mid-market models.

But, while we take the DfT’s word that increasingly sophisticated cars have made ringing more difficult, we are sure it still happens – the same applies to cut-and-shuts. That the DVLA will no longer issue V5s for Cat A and B write-offs adds a layer of security, but someone, somewhere will get caught out.

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By Only Motors