There are many myths which has surrounded driving and the laws attached. It can be confusing to know what is illegal to do and what isn’t when driving. You could face a fine, points on your license, driving bans and even prison sentences for something that you didn’t even know was illegal. Many of us may be breaking the law without even realising and it could be costly for you. Refused Car Finance are here to help you know what is illegal when you are driving and set aside the fact from the fiction!
Let’s take a look at the most commonly asked questions:
Is it illegal to drive…
And eat or drink?
It’s not illegal to eat or drink whiles operating a car or any other vehicle. However, it is recommended by eating or drinking it is going to cause you to become distracted. You could potentially be prosecuted for careless driving if the police consider you to not be in proper control of a vehicle. A careless driving offence can see an on the spot fine of £100 and three penalty points.
There isn’t a specific law on driving too slowly however it can be classed as careless driving, which you can be prosecuted for. There are minimum speeds limits in place in certain areas across the UK which are stated by a blue circular sign and white numerals. As a rule of thumb, you should always stick to the maximum speed limit. Driving too slowly, especially on motorways can encourage road rage and lead other drivers to taking risks and making reckless decisions.
With your interior lights on?
This is one of the biggest myths on our list as it has been believed for years that it is illegal to drive whilst your interior lights are on. The RAC have advised that is perfectly ok to drive with your interior lights on. If a police officer pulls you over with your interior light on and thinks your light is a distraction, they can ask you to turn it off.
Whilst using a mobile phone?
The restrictions around using a mobile phone whilst driving have become stricter over the years. Using a hand-held mobile phone while driving is illegal, and you could face a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 and six penalty points on your license. You can only use your mobile phone if it is fully handsfree e.g. in a secured phone mount on the dashboard. However, the police do have the right to pull you over at any point if they think you are distracted by a handsfree device. You can use a handsfree device to answer calls via Bluetooth or use your mobile as a sat-nav when it is in a fixed position and not obscuring your view. You can only safely use your mobile device as a handheld whilst in the car if you are securely parked and this does not include waiting at traffic lights.
When you’re hungover?
Being hungover whilst driving has the same legal impacts as drink driving. Many people believe that a few hours’ sleep after a night out is enough to make you able to drive again safely. However, it can take up to 12 hours after your last drink for alcohol to leave your body. But this can also take longer depending on factors such as how much you drank, what you were drinking, your age, gender, weight etc. Drink driving penalties can include minimum 12 month driving ban, criminal record, a large fine, 6 months in prison and an endorsement on your license for 11 years. It is only advised that you drive when you are completely sober.
There is no specific law against driving whilst tired as it is hard for the law to measure. However, if you are involved in an accident and tiredness is suspected to be the cause of the crash, the police will usually investigate further. You can be charged with dangerous driving if you fall asleep and cause at accident at the wheel. To prevent tiredness whilst on the road, you should get a good night’s sleep, plan your journey, take sufficient breaks and pull over to take a break when needed.
With no shoes on?
Technically, it’s not illegal to drive without shoes or wearing flipflops in the UK. However, it doesn’t mean that you should! You can get behind the wheel barefoot or wearing flip flops as long as you can operate the controls safely. If you do so with wet feet or anything other factor which may affect your ability to drive, you can be putting yourself, pedestrians and other drivers at risk. The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) recommend that you don’t drive whilst barefoot “suitable shoes are particularly important behind the wheel. We would not recommend driving barefoot because you don’t have the same braking force with bare feet as you do with shoes on.”
With a pet on your lap?
In 2017, the law around driving with pets in your car had changed. You can now face a fine of up to £2,500 and penalty points on your license. As Rule 57 of the Highway Code states “When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.” Animals should travel safely in a cage, harness, seatbelt or pet carrier.
With a crack in the windshield?
Having a crack in your windscreen can be considered a motoring offence. According to the Highway Code, drivers should have full view of the road ahead and glass should be maintained in good condition. A crack in your windscreen can obstruct your view and if you have a cracked windscreen and involved in an accident, this could mean you are charged with a more serious offence.
Whilst wearing headphones?
Wearing headphones whilst driving isn’t against the law, but it can land you with a hefty fine. Headphones can be deemed as more distracting as listening to your cars radio or Bluetooth system because they reduce acoustic cues and can divert a driver’s attention. It can also prevent you from hearing activity on the roads such as ambulance, other cars and pedestrians. Police can charge you with driving without due care and attention or careless driving which can land you with an on the spot fine of £100 and three penalty points.
Up to date with the 2019 driving laws?
Do you know all the new driving laws in 2019? Read our blog to find out which new laws were introduced this year!