Chickens and man flu top tax evaders’ excuses

A van full of chickens and having a bad dose of man flu are just two of the most outlandish excuses for drivers failing to tax their vehicles.

The DVLA has revealed details of some of the wildest reasons given by motorists so far this year as it promotes its online services.

Driving a vehicle without tax - or VED - is a criminal offence and carries a fine of up to £1,000. Even if you are exempt from paying tax - for example if your car is an EV or historic car - you must apply for tax each year, and the same goes if it’s off the road for repairs or restoration.

Despite the hefty fines, the number of enforcement actions against drivers of untaxed vehicles has doubled since the abolition of paper tax discs in 2014. Figures from the DVLA show that around 1.2 million enforcement actions, such as fines and car clamping were carried out in 2019.

I’m going to prison

Among the most outrageous excuses given was one driver who told the DVLA: “I’m about to start a prison sentence, so is there any way you could hang on to my ice cream van for six months ‘til I get out?”.

Strangely enough, being jailed for another offence wasn’t reason enough for that particular driver to be excused paying tax on their van.

Also failing to plead their case was the driver who said that their bitter ex-partner had put four live chickens in their van, which for some reason meant they hadn’t taxed it.

Being in bed with “man flu” for four weeks also wasn’t accepted as a legitimate reason, especially as the DVLA is at pains to point on its online taxing service.

The DVLA's most ridiculous reasons for not taxing a car

I’m about to start a prison sentence, so is there any way you could hang on to my ice cream van for six months ‘til I get out?

I would’ve taxed my van but my bitter ex put four live chickens in it

I know it was untaxed, but I didn’t think you’d clamp cars in a heatwave

I forgot to tax it as I was looking after the kids (aged 19 and 26)

I couldn’t tax my car as I’ve had man flu and have been stuck in bed for 4 weeks

I would’ve taxed the car, but you clamped it so early in the morning (car was clamped at lunchtime)

Commenting on the ridiculous reasons given, DVLA chief executive Julie Lennard said: “While we know that the vast majority of motorists tax their cars on time, there are still some who choose not to.

“Taxing your car is so easy to do online, so there really is no excuse - even if it is filled with chickens.”

The DVLA still sends reminders to motorists when their vehicle tax is due. However, they can also check when their vehicle tax via the Vehicle Enquiry Service website and tax it online at or by phoning 0300 123 4321 on the automated 24 hour service.