Driving laws you could be breaking every day

Driving laws you didn't know you were breaking every day

We all know not to speed, to always wear our seat belts and never use our mobiles. But there are some lesser-known driving laws that you could be flouting without even realising. Here are a few of them…

Asking a stranger for parking change

Not having coins for the pay and display meter is a tale as old as time. Or at least as old as parking meters. But asking a stranger for change comes under the Vagrancy Act 1824 and is considered begging. This could land you with a fine of £1,000, a community order or even a jail term.

Sleeping in your car while intoxicated

Nipping out for a pint or glass of wine after work can often escalate to more than that. Unpreparedly, you may even find that the slightly tipsy version of you feels it’s a good idea to get 40 winks in the car.

Well this is still classed as “in charge of a mechanically propelled vehicle [when] unfit to do so through drink or drugs”, under Section 4(2) of the Road Traffic Act 1988. If you’re prosecuted, there’s a mandatory 10 points on your licence, plus a possible jail sentence and/or 12-month driving ban.

Playing the stereo loud

Electronic dance and gangster rap are not everyone’s cup of tea, and if you think pelting it out at 150 decibels will benefit other road users, then you may be in for a surprise.

Although police officers have to hear the music before they can take any action, they do have the powers to deal with cars emitting loud noise (while driving or stationary). They’ll probably ask nicely to start with, but if you persist, you could end up with your vehicle being seized.

Failing to declare that you’ve had a caesarean

If you’re still recovering from a c-section after three months, you need to inform the DVLA. If you don’t, you can be fined up to £1,000.

Beeping your horn while stationary

We all share the frustration at drivers who don’t pay attention when the traffic lights turn from red to green. We probably even pip the horn to alert them.

However, the Highway Code says you can’t use your horn while stationary and if you unwittingly flout the law you could be landed with a £1,000 fine.

Hogging the middle lane

It’s easier to drive in the middle lane, right? You don’t have to worry about traffic joining the carriageway and you’re not obstructing anyone who wants to whip past in the outside overtaking lane.

But 2013 laws categorise lane hogging as “careless driving”, giving police officers the power to hand out on-the-spot fines of £100 and three penalty points.

Driving slowly

Slow drivers can be frustrating. But if you think they’re let off the hook, then you’re wrong. Driving too slowly can be considered careless driving, and can come with a penalty – anything from a verbal warning to nine points on your licence.

Driving without your glasses

The Highway Code states motorists must be able to read a car number plate accurately from 20 metres before setting off on a journey. Motorists could be hit with a £1,000 fine and up to three points on their driving licence for getting behind the wheel with bad vision.

However, police officers could charge you for dangerous driving offences in some serious cases which will see penalties increase to up to a £5,000 fine and even jail time in extreme circumstances.

Eating and drinking

Whether you’re eating, drinking, putting make-up on or vaping, if a police officer thinks you’re driving without due care and attention, then you could earn yourself three to nine penalty points and a £100 fine.

Making a profit from giving someone a lift

While chipping in for petrol is not illegal, making a profit from giving lifts is an absolute no-go. If you’re seen to be earning money from taxiing people around, you could get a £5,000 fine and six penalty points.

Driving with your headphones in

Although there are no specific laws about driving with your earbuds in, you could still be charged with “driving without due care and attention”, so it’s better to hook your podcasts up to your hands-free instead.

Using an unfixed mobile phone for directions

New laws from 1st March this year say any motorist that’s distracted by their phone while driving will be handed six penalty points and a £200 fine. This includes using it as a sat nav.

Make sure you have a dash-mounted holder for the phone if you need to use it for directions, as under the Highway Code, drivers are required to keep windscreens clear.

Paying for drive-through food with your phone

Yes – this does come under the new mobile phone laws and could saddle you with six points and a £200 fine. If you’re using your phone to pay for drive-through fast food, make sure you park up and go into the restaurant, rather than using the window.

Swearing or hand gesturing to other drivers

Being irritated behind the wheel is a British institution. But if you get so annoyed that you swear at other drivers, then a £1,000 fine could be coming your way.

Whilst 2020 hasn’t seen any driving laws come into play just yet, you might want to check out our guide to some of the new motoring laws that are coming into play this year.