Motoring Laws

Motoring Laws You May Have Broken without knowing it.

Legislation to make driving under the influence of drugs as a specific offence has been welcomed after it was announced in last week's Queen's speech. It's already widely known that driving after taking banned drugs such as cannabis or cocaine is illegal but did you know that patients on prescription drugs also face prosecution if their driving is impaired by medication?

To stay on the right side of the law, a modern driver needs to be fully aware of the catalogue of potential motoring offences that they might be committing, and this list seems to be growing by the day.Here are 10 examples of less common offences that might catch you out:

Warning fellow oncoming motorists

Warning other drivers of a police speed trap could land you with a fine of up to £500. A 64-year-old male motorist from Grimsby helped a fellow driver avoid a potential prosecution and was hit with a fine and costs totalling £440 by magistrates.

Dirty number plate

Number plates that obscure the registration details can lead to a £1,000 fine.

Beeping your horn

Sounding your horn while stationary is illegal, unless to warn a moving vehicle of danger. In fact, you can't use your horn on a residential street from 11.30pm till 7am in any circumstances.

Changing a CD

...or, sipping a hot drink, eating food or doing your make-up while driving could be considered careless or even dangerous.

Pulling over to take a mobile phone call

You may still be considered by police to be 'driving' and therefore breaking the law if the engine is running, even if you are parked at the kerbside. Be safe: park up and switch off or use a hands-free phone.

Playing loud music

Playing loud music, especially with your car windows down, could be regarded as causing a distraction for either yourself or other road users.

Cradling a baby in your arms

As a passenger, holding a baby while the car is moving, even if you are wearing a seatbelt, is unlawful and the driver is responsible. All children must have a 'restraint', such as a booster seat or baby seat, until their 12th birthday or reaching 135cm tall. Travelling in a taxi is an exception.

Road rage

Being abusive or making rude hand gestures to a fellow road user or pedestrian can be judged inconsiderate, careless driving

'Morning after' drink-drivers

Convictions of motorists who are over the alcohol limit from the previous night are on the rise. Some people who stop drinking alcohol at midnight may still be above legal limits for driving at 4pm the next day - 16 hours later - depending on the amount consumed.

Even beyond these less well-known laws there are numerous motoring myths that can land you in trouble. Inaccurate but commonly-held beliefs, such as the 'two-week leeway for changing a tax disc' or the 10% speed limit discretion, often get motorists fines or points on their driving licence, which can in turn lead to an outright ban via the totting-up system.

Solicitor Natali Farrell of Just Motor Law said: "It is useful for motorists to refresh themselves of the law by re-reading the Highway Code to avoid some of the myths.''

"Knowing the law can help a motorist avoid breaking it. Some offences are less clear-cut than say, speeding, and open to interpretation, which means there may be scope to challenge on several grounds."