Costly Govt Rules New Car Buyers Break; Fines & Penalties

  • The motor vehicle industry is among the fastest-growing industry in the country with 14,250 vehicles sold in 2021  according to the Kenya Motor Industry Association (KMIA).

    As required of every industry, the government has put in place regulations to manage the sector. This is provided for in the Traffic Act.

    Kenyans.co.ke compiled a list of rules that car buyers unknowingly break that could cost them hefty fines or possible jail terms:

    Cars at a yard awaiting auction.

    An image of imported cars in a yard.


    Driving a car without a number plate

    Section 12 of the Traffic Act demands that all motor vehicles registered with the government be fitted with identification plates and in the prescribed colours – white at the front and yellow at the back.

    This includes vehicles found in car showrooms, whose temporary plates are inscribed with the name of the dealer’s licence. Failure to adhere to this attracts a hefty fine not exceeding Ksh300,000. 

    “A person who contravenes or fails to comply with the provisions of this section commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding Ksh300,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months or both,” reads the act in part.

    Transfer of Second-Hand Vehicles

    Kenyans who purchase second-hand vehicles and rush to get behind the wheel risk being visitors to the state as the law only allows them to drive for a limited amount of days during the change of ownership.

    “No motor vehicle or trailer, the ownership of which has been transferred by the registered owner, shall be used on a road for more than 14 days after such transfer unless the new owner is registered as the owner thereof,” reads Section 9 (1).

    In addition, the seller of the car must notify the Registrar of vehicles of the sale and transfer within seven days of the date of transfer.

    Driving a car in a showroom using a dealer’s licence

    Section 24 prohibits buyers from driving vehicles from the showroom unless in the company of a licenced dealer.

    “No vehicle shall be used on any road under the authority of a dealer’s general licence unless the hold vehicles licences under a dealer,” Section 24 (3) reads.

    The law further limits the number of persons who can ride in a car bought from a dealership to three including the driver. The two other occupants should be the buyer and his agent or a member of the family.

    “Any person who contravenes or fails to comply with any of the provisions of this Part shall be guilty of an offence and liable on the first conviction to a fine not exceeding Ksh10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months.

    “… and on each subsequent conviction to a fine not exceeding Ksh20,000 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both,” the Traffic Act reads.

    Driving Unlawfully Imported Cars and Carrying Log Books

    Car buyers are advised to do due diligence when buying vehicles from dealers and individuals. They should verify that the cars they intend to buy followed the ratified procedures.

    They also need to request the registration (log) book and have a copy of the same to show proof of purchase on a needed basis by law enforcement officers. 

    “The owner of a vehicle shall, when requested by a police officer, produce for inspection, either immediately to the police officer or within five days of the request being made, at a police station nominated by the owner, the registration certificate issued in respect of the vehicle,” reads the law in part.

    From left, ICT CS Joe Mucheru, Transport CS James Macharia and Interior CS Dr. Fred Matiangi (centre) during the commissioning of new generation number plates

    From left: Former CSs Joe Mucheru, James Macharia and Fred Matiang’i during the commissioning of new generation number plates.


Jay Ndungu

Jay is a computer scientist and journalist with a passion for the intersection of technology and society. He has a background in computer science, developing a deep understanding of the technical aspects of the industry, including programming languages and software development methodologies. Currently, He writes for Nairobi Times, covering a wide range of topics including technology, politics, sports, and entertainment. With his unique combination of technical knowledge and journalistic experience, Jay brings a unique perspective to the stories he covers, able to explain complex technical concepts in an easy-to-understand manner. His work is dedicated to bridge the gap between technology and society, and to make people more aware of the potential of technology to make the world a better place.

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