For some of us, sitting in a car next to the examiner on driving test day happened a few years ago – or maybe even decades …
The rules may have changed, and typically the use of mobile phones or satnavs may not have been on the agenda then, as there were no such things at the time. Below we list 10 things that you may not be aware of, that could cost you some of your hard-earned cash and even a few points on your licence…
Splashing pedestrians when driving through a puddle
Up to 9 penalty points on your licence or £5,000 fine
The rule that applies here is Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, which refers to careless and inconsiderate driving, stating that:
“If a person drives a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place, he or she is guilty of an offence.”
The maximum fine that can receive is a level 5 charge (up to £5,000) – however, it is unusual to receive such a high charge without additional aggravating circumstances.
Sleeping while intoxicated in your car
Minimum 10 penalty points, and a potential fine.
If you are found sleeping drunk in your car, even with the engine switched off, you may be prosecuted for being “in charge of a mechanically propelled vehicle [when] unfit to do so through drink or drugs”, pursuant to Section 4(2) of the Road Traffic Act 1988.
Using an unfixed mobile as a sat nav
Up to 6 points and £200 fine
Drivers are being warned that using a mobile phone to navigate in their car could lead to a ban and a £200 fine.
Penalties brought in this April to stop drivers using their phones at the wheel also extend to the use of mobiles as satnavs. While it’s not illegal to use navigation apps completely, motorists can be prosecuted if they touch the handset while driving. Amid the changes, the maximum penalty doubled, meaning that those caught out could face a £200 fine and six points, or even disqualification. “If an officer determines that a driver using their satnav hindered their ability to control the car, the driver could face prosecution,” said a spokesman for the National Police Chiefs’ Council.
We previously wrote a blog on this subject: Can You Lose Your Licence During A Phone Call?
Allowing dirt to obscure your number plate
As explained by the DVLA, “there is a specific offence under the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994 of obscuring or allowing a registration mark to be not easily distinguishable.”
“All registration numbers must be displayed clearly and correctly on the number plate – this helps the police, enforcement agencies and members of the public to correctly identify a vehicle to assist road safety and traffic enforcement”.
Flashing your headlights to warn other drivers of a speed trap
Up to £1,000 fine
A little-known driving law involving car headlights could see drivers land a hefty fine: motorists in the UK could be fined up to £1,000 for using their headlights to inform other road users of a speed trap set up by the police.
It might just be assumed that you’re doing a good deed warning other drivers of a speed camera or a speed trap and actually get them to slow down, however, the Highway Code (rule 110) stipulates that drivers should “only flash [their] headlights to let other road users know that [they] are there” and makes it very clear that motorists should not “flash [their] headlights to convey any other message or intimidate other road users.”
What’s more, warning other drivers about a speed trap implemented by the police could see you in breach of section 89 of the Police Act 1997, as trying to “willfully obstruct a constable in the execution of his/her duty” – an offence that can land you a fine of up to £1,000.
Hogging the middle lane on the motorway
3 points and £100 fine
When driving along a three-lane motorway, rule 264 of the Highway Code states: “You should always drive in the left-hand lane when the road ahead is clear. If you are overtaking a number of slow-moving vehicles, you should return to the left-hand lane as soon as you are safely past. New laws introduced in 2013 give police officers the power to hand out on-the-spot fines of £100 and 3 penalty points, meaning failing to keep left on the motorway could hit you in the pocket.
Paying for your food at a drive-through with your phone
Up to 6 penalty points and £200 fine
The new legislation is not limited to using a mobile for making calls and texts – it is illegal to operate a mobile telephone, in any way, which detracts from the driver’s attention to the road. This includes checking social media, or playing and changing music. And it may also include using a mobile telephone to make contactless payments at a drive-through restaurant!
Allowing a passenger to cradle a baby
The law requires all children travelling in the front or rear seat of any car, van or goods vehicle to use the correct child car seat until they are either 135 cm in height or 12 years old (whichever they reach first). After this, they must use an adult seat belt. There are a few exceptions, though, for example for short/unplanned/necessary journeys in a taxi or private hire vehicle, or if you can’t fit a third child car seat at the back of your vehicle.
Failing to clear snow off your roof
Up to 3 points and a £60 fine
There is no road law that says it is illegal to drive with snow on your car. However, the Highway Code stipulates that if driving in adverse weather conditions you must, by law, be able to see out of every glass panel in your vehicle.
This is supported by the section 41D of the Road Traffic Act 1988, meaning it is a legal requirement to have a clear view of the road ahead before you set off. As for the snow on the roof, while, again, there is no law stating it is illegal to drive with snow on your roof, if it falls off onto your windscreen while driving or flies into the path of another car then you could be penalised for such offences as ‘driving without due consideration’ or ‘using a motor vehicle in a dangerous condition’
Swearing or making rude hand gestures to other road users
Up to £2,000 (£3,500 for vehicles up to 8 passengers) and 3 points
It’s easy to get frustrated on the roads when faced with inconsiderate or seemingly inept motorists. But keeping a lid on your temper and not reacting in an impassioned manner could save you some cash.
Drivers that make rude hand gestures to other drivers, such as sticking up their middle finger, could land a fine of up to 75% of their weekly earnings up to £1,000 – seeing you prosecuted for ‘disorderly conduct’, offences that fall under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.
In addition, the driver could be seen as ‘not being fully in control of a vehicle’, an offence which carries a maximum fine of £1,000 (up to £2,500 for vehicles designed to carry up to 8 passengers) and 3 penalty points.