There are a lot of myths surrounding the legality of various driving and car-related activities. You know you shouldn’t speed and you know you shouldn’t drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. But is it OK to drink non-alcoholic beer and drive? Is it OK to drive without shoes on? Lots of activities that feel like they should be OK, aren’t OK, and lots of activities that seem like a bad idea are perfectly legal. Many of them we do on an almost daily basis without even considering it. There are lots of grey areas and some of these things come down to the discretion of individual police forces and their officers. Here are some of the most common ‘Is it legal to drive…’ questions.
The rules around what you wear (or don’t wear) on your feet whilst driving aren’t clearly defined. What matters is how the footwear in question affects your ability to drive. If a police officer pulls you over for dangerous or careless driving and notices that you aren’t wearing any shoes, they might attribute your poor driving to your lack of footwear. So, whilst not technically illegal, it might lead to a fine or penalty points if the police officer deems it appropriate. Careless driving carries an on-the-spot fine of £100 and three penalty points. If it ends up going to court, this can be increased to £5,000 and nine penalty points or even a driving ban.
As already discussed, no particular footwear is illegal but a police officer can fine you if they think your shoes are responsible for careless driving. Regardless of the legality, driving in flip-flops might not be the most sensible idea. You should always choose something that offers stability and good grip so you don’t slip off the pedals. At the other end of the spectrum, wellies or big boots might be too thick and prevent you from feeling the pedals beneath your feet. You could press the wrong pedal or miss altogether. If your shoes are too wide, you might accidentally press two pedals at once. This rules out many types of shoes despite none in particular being illegal.
Headphones, just like footwear, occupy a bit of a grey area. They’re not actually illegal, but if a police officer decides they are a distraction and have resulted in bad driving, you could be stuck with that £100 on-the-spot fine, or worse. The fact that they’re way more conspicuous than shoes should make you think twice before putting them on.
Driving with the interior lights on isn’t illegal but, as with so many things on our list, a police officer could penalise you for it anyway. If they think the light could be a distraction to you or that it could dazzle other drivers, you could be pulled over and fined on-the-spot.
No, it’s not illegal to eat behind the wheel unless it affects your ability to drive. It could carry a careless driving penalty if the police decide your snack was to blame. Something you might not have considered involves the drive-through. If you use Google Pay or Apple Pay to buy your food, make sure your engine is off and your handbrake is on, otherwise you risk getting a fine for using your phone whilst driving.
It’s only illegal to drive when you’re over the limit so drinking a non-alcoholic beer is no different to dinking a cup of coffee or bottle of water. But, as with eating, a police officer could consider it a distraction and a reason to issue a careless driving fine. Because non-alcoholic beer looks and smells like normal beer, it’s probably best not to give the police a reason to pull you over.
Most of us know that driving whilst under the influence of drugs like cannabis is illegal but what about Cannabidiol? Since legal CBD oils contain such low levels of THC, which is the psycho-active component of Cannabis that makes you high, there’s no law against driving with them in your system. Everyone reacts differently though so you should, of course, figure out how CBD affects you before getting behind the wheel. Don’t drive after taking it for the first time.
Smoking whilst driving is not illegal but, as with eating and drinking, if it causes distraction you could face a charge of careless driving. Recent changes in the law do make it illegal to smoke if you’re travelling with anyone under the age of 18 years old.
Yes, but it depends on the size of the crack. As long as it doesn’t obscure the view in front of you, you can drive with a small chip or crack in the screen. You shouldn’t drive with a larger crack that blocks your view or compromises the stability of the entire windscreen.
It is perfectly legal to sleep in your car provided you are parked in a designated rest stop or parking space. The surprising exception to this rule comes when alcohol is involved – it is illegal to sleep in your car if you’re over the legal drink-drive limit because you are not allowed to be ‘in-charge’ of a vehicle whilst drunk. It’s definitely a sensible decision when the alternative is drink-driving but, if you want to avoid a fine, you should leave the car and get a taxi home instead.
The short answer is ‘yes’ but it depends which wingmirror is missing. The driver’s side wing mirror must always be intact. You can drive without the passenger side wing mirror, as long as you have a functioning rear view mirror. Another way to think of it is that you must have two out of three functioning mirrors, and one of them has to be the driver’s wing mirror.
If you drive a car that has an invalid MOT certificate, you could receive a fine of up to £1,000 and have the car impounded. Once expired, you’re only allowed to drive your car if your MOT is booked and you’re on the way to the test centre. You’ll need to prove this to the police if they pull you over.
It might be a huge pain to find someone parked on your land but only lawful authorities, like the DVLA or police, are allowed immobilise or move a vehicle. The Protection of Freedoms Act makes it an offence to use a wheel clamp, even on your own property, so it’s best to phone the police if you find yourself in this situation.