'Grace period' ruled out for drivers facing MoT delay in Northern Ireland
Motorists have been warned there will be no "period of grace" if the MoT runs out on their vehicle before they can secure an appointment, despite the current testing backlog.
That means anyone driving their vehicle without a valid certificate will be breaking the law, even if they cannot get a date before their MoT lapses.
The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) confirmed it is not considering any exemptions and will instead continue adding additional Sunday appointments over the summer.
Motorists have also been urged to make sure they turn up for their test as there were 644 no-shows for appointments between June 10-16, despite knowledge of the growing problems in securing a test time.
"The Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) opened a number of test centres on Sunday, June 16 and June 23, where we tested over 2,500 vehicles," a DfI spokesman told the Belfast Telegraph.
"We currently have approximately 1,000 additional vehicle tests planned for Sunday, June 30.
"Planning is underway to make MoT appointments available every Thursday (appearing on the DVA website) for a further eight Sundays during July and August to address the current backlog in applications.
"Additional slots will continue to be released on a daily basis as and when they become available.
"Given the steps already being taken by the DVA, the Department is not considering the use of exemptions at this time."
In some areas drivers were having to wait over two months for an appointment, leaving many running the risk of driving without an MoT.
SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan is now urging drivers to make sure they attend scheduled appointments to help clear the current backlog.
The MLA for Foyle had written to DfI to clarify what measures had been taken and to request the "grace period" in conjunction with the PSNI, for motorists currently without an MoT certificate as a direct consequence of the delay.
"DfI have denied this proposal, highlighting the 644 customers who failed to attend their appointment in the week June 10-16, and have assured that plans are currently in place to address the issue," he said.
"While I am disappointed that DfI have chosen not to consider a 'period of grace' for motorists, the current situation has been somewhat exacerbated by the hundreds of people failing to show up for appointments.
"The unprecedented demand in applications has left many waiting weeks for an appointment - the negative impact on people's lives and livelihoods of these delays could be huge and I pressed upon the Department and DVA the importance of minimising this impact.
"They have since assured me that measures are in place to tackle the backlog, including the recruitment of additional staff and of preparations currently underway for Sunday appointments throughout July and August.
"Evidently, the Department have taken the required action, albeit belated.
"I only hope it will be sufficient to tackle the backlog head on. The public must now ensure attendance at their scheduled appointments - or if this is not possible, contact DVA beforehand to cancel and free up slots for others."
The Department is continuing to encourage motorists to book their MoT test as soon as they receive the reminder notice.
"Bookings, cancellations and change of dates can be made at www.nidirect.gov.uk/mot-change or by calling 0345 247 2471," the spokesperson added.
In 2018/19, 32,000 drivers failed to attend appointments.
In response to the current delays, more vehicle examiners have been recruited and earlier reminders are being sent to drivers.