ATTENTION ALL DRIVERS

Our lives are littered with rules and regulations and bound up in red tape these days. Successive Governments tell us that they are to make our lives simpler by making straight forward legislation. They then proceed to do the absolute opposite by issuing new laws, rules and regulations, many of which are difficult if not impossible to interpret with certainty.

This article concerns some offences which can be unwittingly broken by any driver who may not be aware of them. I have set out a list of some offences with the potential penalties that can be imposed and I have to admit that I have not heard of some of these before.

1. Using your car to splash pedestrians from puddles in the road. Three points to your licence

2. Making a profit from giving someone a lift – if you do not have the right paperwork then the penalty can be up to £5,000 fine and 6 penalty points. This does not include making a sensible contribution towards petrol.

3. Towing a trailer or caravan in the outside motorway lane – here the fine can be as much as £2,500 and three penalty points. In addition the towing maximum speed is 60 miles per hour.

4. Warning other drivers of a speed trap by flashing your headlights. I’ve always rather liked the argument that the flasher is merely encouraging other drivers to comply with the law but this activity carries a £30 fine or more.

5. Driving too slowly. This counts as careless driving and can be rewarded with anything from a verbal warning to nine penalty points, and whilst we’re on the subject of speed, if you are driving on a road which is illuminated by street lamps then unless there is a specific speed limit posted then do not exceed 30 mph otherwise there is £100 fine and 3 penalty points or more in prospect.

6. Failing to turn your lights on when it gets dark or in circumstances of bad weather where visibility is diminished such as fog or heavy rain. Depending on the circumstances this can earn a £50 fine or possibly points on your licence. Do you remember the “Be seen campaign” when some cars and all motorcycles were encouraged to have running lights all the time. A very sensible plan which came to nothing, and motorcyclists are still attracted to wear black and therefore very difficult to see in certain circumstances. The same goes for some pedestrians, who can be as visible as a black cat sitting on a black wall at midnight as my granny used to say.

7. Leaving your car on a single yellow line. Creating your own parking space even to pop into a shop can earn you a fine of up to £130.

8. Failure to declare medical conditions to the DVLA can earn you a £1,000 fine, and of course do not forget to inform your insurers as certain conditions can affect the “risk” in which they are prepared to cover and you may find yourself uninsured as a result.

9. Driving in the middle lane of the motorway and when not justified. It is said that the middle and right hand lanes of a motorway should only be used for overtaking – this to be distinguished against the drivers who swerve in and out of the nearside lane which to my mind at the least is extremely dangerous. Anyway, if you get it wrong £100 fine and three penalty points are yours.

10. Parking on a pavement. Obviously it is illegal to drive on a pavement and must therefore follow that it is illegal to park there and can cost you a £70 fine.

11. Stopping on the motorway hard shoulder without justification – for example by just having a rest from driving will not be justified and could be rewarded with a £100 fine and three penalty points. This is to be distinguished of course between a car that has broken down, and certainly a “comfort break” is not excusable.

SURPRISE, SURPRISE

So far I have set out a list of offences which are fairly obvious and should be known to all drivers, particularly those who passed their tests since the written exam was included in the process for a driving licence being granted. Ignorance of the law is no excuse they say, and there are an awful lot of road traffic act laws in existence which can catch you out. Here are

some which you may not be familiar with or have even thought about – one or two of them took me by surprise.

1. Failing to keep your number plate clean and clearly legible can lead to £100 fine.

2. Sounding the car horn for any reason other than giving an audible warning of your presence. I am sure we are all guilty of sounding the horn in order to tell other drivers off, and please note that you are not permitted to use the horn on your car while it is stationery. In any case £30 fine could follow.

3. Rude hand gestures or swearing to other road users. This one is taken very seriously and can result in a fine of 75% of your weekly income.

4. Sleeping in your car whilst intoxicated. Obviously there is a difference between simply getting into your car and sleeping it off rather than realising you are sleepy with alcohol whilst driving and then parking it and going to sleep – you will have to prove that you have not driven to the point where you decided to go to sleep, but you are still said to be in charge of the vehicle. There is a minimum of 10 penalty points with a strong likelihood of a fine. Driving whilst intoxicated is, as we all know, punishable by loss of licence for a minimum of 12 months and heavy fines, unless there are extremely exceptional circumstances.

5. Driving without due care and attention as a result of eating, drinking, applying makeup or even changing a CD – whilst you are driving – I would think that many drivers are guilty of one form or another of this one. The idea is to avoid your attention being distracted, this can earn a penalty between 3 and 9 points on your licence and £100 fine.

6. Using a handheld mobile phone as a Satnav – this can earn you 6 penalty points and a £200.00 fine.

7. Failing to clear snow from your car’s roof leads to potential fall or loss of visibility which means 3 penalty points and a £60 fine.

8. Driving whilst a passenger is cradling a baby in their arms – £100 fine.

9. Excessive loud music which results in alarm, distress or annoyance to others can result in a warning or alternatively a car can be seized by the police.

10. And lastly and I think most surprising and surely least is making a payment for food using your phone at a drive-through food outlet. Note that using a contactless card for payment is acceptable but otherwise you could incur a £200 fine and as many as 6 penalty points.

STAY ALERT

Tiredness at the wheel. We have all seen the signs at the roadside “Tiredness can Kill” have you ever nodded off even for a split second? Very alarming! This can result from sleep deprivation affecting both memory and visual perception. Inadequate sleep exerts similar influence on the brain as alcohol or certain drugs. Tiredness is not of itself an offence but the consequences can of course lead to careless even dangerous driving.

CHRISTMAS AND BEYOND

We here at Busbys wish all our clients and readers a Happy Christmas, and we look forward to providing excellent legal services to our community in 2018.

David Helman

Busbys Solicitors

Bude & Holsworthy

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