The law: Theft Act 1968, s.12

It is an offence to take a vehicle when you know you do not have the consent of the owner. You can be considered to ‘take’ a vehicle by driving it, or simply being a passenger in it. To be guilty of this offence requires both that the owner does not consent to your taking of the vehicle, and that you know that they do not consent. You are not guilty of this offence if you acted in the belief that you would have the owner’s consent if the owner knew of your actions and the circumstances. There is a more serious form of this offence: Aggravated Unlawful Taking of a Motor Vehicle

Likely sentence or penalty

The offence is triable only in the Magistrates Court and carries a  maximum Level 5 fine and/or 6 months imprisonment. The court  must endorse the licence  and may disqualify

Our advice

There are two forms of this offence, the basic form and the aggravated form. Someone who has ‘borrowed’ a friend or relative’s car without their knowledge could be guilty of the basic offence. Someone who takes a stranger’s car for a joyride and abandons it could be guilty of the aggravated offence. This page is about the basic form. The more serious offence is Aggravated Unlawful Taking of a Motor Vehicle. There are a number of possible avenues open to defending an allegation of taking without consent.

Rose & Dunn can represent you for a fixed fee or possibly on legal aid. Contact us for further advice and assistance including a free initial appraisal of your case with no obligation.