Taking without consent (TWOC) | Free Legal Advice from MAJ Law Solicitors

This week the BBC reported that almost 2000 people were arrested in the West Midlands area on 2021 for taking a motor vehicle without consent (also known as 'twocking'). 1,004 stolen vehicles were recovered in the region between January and November 2021.

So, what is Twocking and what are the penalties?

Taking without consent definition

Section 12 of the Theft Act 1968 creates an offence of taking a motor vehicle without consent. If the driver damages the vehicle they could be charged with 'aggravated vehicle taking'. 

Stealing a motor vehicle, also known as joyriding or taking without consent (TWOC) is an offence committed if you drive any motor vehicle without the owner’s permission. However, you are not guilty of the offence if you believe you had lawful authority to take the vehicle, or you genuinely believe the owner would have given you permission to drive the vehicle.  

There is also a separate offence of “allowing yourself to be carried” in a vehicle without consent (as a passenger).  

Taking without consent is a 'summary only' offence. This means that it can only be heard in the Magistrates' Court. The maximum penalty for TWOC is 6 months in prison and a £5000 fine. Most people convicted of twocking receive a community penalty. 

Can I get banned for Twocking? 

Twocking does not carry a mandatory driving disqualification. This does not, however, mean that you will not get banned if you are convicted of 'taking a motor vehicle without consent'. The sentencing guidelines below outline the most likely penalties for twocking. You will note that the chance of being banned depends upon the seriousness of the offence. 

Level of seriousness  Starting Point Range Disqualification 
High Community Service Prison - Community Service 9 - 12 months 
Medium Community Service  Community Service 5 - 8 months 
Low Community Service Community Service - Fine Consider Disqualifying

Examples of high seriousness

  • A leading role in the offence
  • Burning the vehicle
  • Using the vehicle to commit other crimes 
  • Vechile belonging to a vulnerable person
  • Carrying passengers 

Examples of low seriousness 

  • You were coerced into taking the vehicle 
  • Limited understanding of the offence 
  • Exceeding authorised use
  • Using a rental car beyond return date 

Aggravated TWOC

The biggest difference between TWOC and Aggravated TWOC is that aggravated TWOC is an either-way offence. This means that, depending on the seriousness of the offence, it could be sent for trial in the Crown Court (in front of a jury). It is also much more likely a person would be sent to prison for aggravated twocking. 

Aggravated TWOC carries a maximum penalty in the Crown Court of two years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. The maximum penalty in the magistrates’ court is six months imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. A driver could be charged with aggravated TWOC if they take a vehicle without the owner's permissions and;

  • Property was damaged 
  • The vehicle needs repairing
  • An accident occurred and injury was caused 
  • The vehicle was driven dangerously