New Ways You Could Be Breaking Driving Laws

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New Ways You Could Be Breaking Driving Laws
LPC & GDL Matthew Shiels
Legally reviewed by: LPC & GDL Matthew Shiels In: Personal Injury

With the new and continuously changing Highway Code rules, some drivers can get caught out on the new rules. This can leave drivers with fines and points on their licence and in some cases, driving bans and prosecution. Our motoring offence solicitors are highly experienced in successfully protecting driving licences across Blackburn and Lancashire. If you have been accused of breaking any driving laws or have been the victim of another driver our solicitors can advise you on the next steps to take.

Using Your Phone as a Satnav in an Unfixed Position

Using a satnav while driving is commonplace now to help you get to your destination. With the advancements of smartphones, many individuals use their phones to navigate their journey. To use your phone safely and legally as a satnav, you must have your phone in a fixed position on your dashboard or windscreen. This will allow you to view the directions safely while driving without the need to hold your phone.

The ‘cradle’ that your phone is placed in should not obscure your view of the road. If you are caught driving with your phone in your hand, you can receive a fine of £200 and be given six points on your licence. If you have had your licence for less than two years you could receive a driving ban.

Selecting Music While Driving

New driving laws make it illegal to touch your phone while driving. This includes pressing the start and stop or skip buttons on playlists. You can be charged £200 for committing this offence and receive a six-point penalty, even when you’re stationary in traffic or parked with the engine running.

Not Giving Pedestrians Priority at Junctions

With the recent changes to the Highway Code, the ‘hierarchy of road uses’ has changed. The changes, place the greatest road responsibility on users who pose a greater risk to others as lower down on the hierarchy list.  As a result, the list is as follows:

  1. Pedestrians
  2. Cyclists
  3. Horse riders
  4. Motorcyclists
  5. Cars and taxis
  6. Vans and minibuses
  7. Large passenger vehicles and HGVs

Therefore, if you are about to turn into a side road and pedestrians are waiting to cross the side road, you must give priority to them so that they can cross.

Not Cutting Across Cyclists to Turn into Or Out of a Junction or Lane

The Highway Code’s changes to the road hierarchy also means that cars and large vehicles have a responsibility to protect cyclists. It is illegal to overtake a cyclist to cut in front of them when turning into a junction or lane. Cutting in front of a cyclist like this can cause them to swerve or stop. As a result, the driver would be held responsible in the event of an accident occurring.

Checking Your Smartwatch

You are allowed to wear a smartwatch when driving, however, they can often be the cause of distraction on the road. If you are caught checking your notifications or using your smartwatch in any manner while on the road, you will be fined £100 and receive three points on your licence.

Driving with a Dirty Windscreen or Number Plate

The Highway Code states that “windscreens and windows must be kept clean and free from obstructions to vision.” Therefore, it is a driver’s responsibility to make sure that their windows are kept clean so that visibility is not restricted. Having unclean windows can add unnecessary risk to the driver and those around them. Having a dirty windscreen breaches Regulation 30 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986.

Additionally, your number plate must be easily readable while driving. If your number plate is not easily visible, you can risk a fine of £1,000.

Tailgating Another Vehicle

Driving too close to the vehicle in front of you, often called tailgating, can cause you to be charged with a careless driving offence. As a result, you can end up with a £100 penalty charge and three points on your licence.

Driving On Certain Prescription Drugs

Driving while on certain prescription drugs is illegal. This includes prescription drugs that can have side effects which impair your driving. If you have been prescribed any of these drugs, you must consult with your doctor before driving.

The police are permitted to stop and assess you if they believe you are drug driving. If they believe you are unfit to drive because you’re on drugs they will arrest, you and take a blood or urine sample test at the police station. You can face a minimum of a year driving ban, an unlimited fine and up to six months in prison and a criminal record if you are convicted of drug driving.

Smoking in a Car

It is not illegal to smoke in your car, however, if smoking becomes a distraction, it can be used to show careless or dangerous driving. Additionally, the Children and Families Act 2014 makes it illegal to smoke in cars with a passenger who is a minor. Therefore, if you are failing to prevent someone in your car (including yourself) from smoking in the same car as a minor, you are breaking the driving law.

Using a Phone at a Drive-thru

Many people use their phones as a method of paying; therefore, it is commonplace for phones to be used at a drive-thru. Despite this, it is illegal for your phone to be used unless the vehicle is completely stationary, the hand break is on, and the engine is off. A failure to do so can result in a £200 fine and six points on your licence.

Driving Too Slowly

An increasing number of roads are getting minimum speed limits. These are indicated by a blue, circular road sign with a white number on it. The end of the zone is indicated by the same sign with a red line through the number. Driving slower than the speed limit indicated on the sign can result in a fine.

Additionally, you don’t always have to be in a designated minimum speed limit zone for slow driving to be dangerous. Driving too slow can still be hazardous as other road users will not be expecting your speed and therefore an accident could occur. Therefore, you can receive a fine of £100 and three points on your licence if you are driving too slowly.

Using a Horn When Angry or In a Built-up Area

According to Rule 112 of the Highway Code, you must not use your horn aggressively. You should only use your horn to alert others of your presence. Additionally, it is illegal to use your horn in built-up areas between 11.30 pm and 7 am unless you or another road user poses a danger. Both offences could result in a £20 fixed penalty notice.

Flashing Headlights to Give Way

Although a lot of drivers use their headlights as a way of giving thanks to other drivers or giving way to another vehicle, it is technically illegal. You should only flash your headlights to warn another vehicle of your presence. According to Rule 110 of the Highway Code, you must not flash your headlights for any other reason or to intimidate other road users. If there was an accident, you would be held liable.

Using a Phone While Supervising a Learner Driver

If you are supervising a learner driver, it is illegal to use your phone in the vehicle, even if you are not behind the wheel. The driving law views the supervisor as responsible for the vehicle. Therefore, if you touch your phone while supervising, you could be given a fine of £200 and six penalty points on your licence.

Misusing the Hard Shoulder

You are only permitted to use the hard shoulder if your vehicle has broken down or if you are driving on a smart motorway and the signs permit it. Using the hard shoulder for any other reason can result in a fine of £100. Additionally you can get three points on your driving licence.

Driving Without Declaring Medical Conditions to the DVLA

If you have a new medical condition which can impact your ability to drive safely you must inform the DVLA. Conditions can include:

  • Diabetes
  • Syncope (fainting)
  • Heart conditions
  • Sleep Apnoea
  • Epilepsy
  • Strokes
  • Glaucoma

If you fail to inform the DVLA, you can be fined £1,000. If you are in an accident and you have not informed the DVLA of your condition you can be prosecuted.

Staying in the Middle Lane of a Motorway

If a vehicle stays in the middle lane of the motorway, it is classed as a careless driving offence. This is if the vehicle stays in the lane for longer than necessary. As a result, you could be hanged a fine of £100 and receive three points on your driving licence.

How Our Blackburn and Lancashire Road Traffic Solicitors Can Help You

We can offer you our expert advice and guidance on driving law throughout at any stage of the process. This includes immediately following the road incident, and/or after a Notice of Intended Prosecution has been issued to you

Our road traffic and criminal defence solicitors can support you at the police station and before the Courts where this is necessary. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you.

At AWH Solicitors Blackburn, we offer a dedicated 24-hour, criminal defence service for immediate assistance with matters including driving offences.

You can contact us on 079 0355 9919 for immediate assistance only, for example, if you are about to be arrested or at the police station requiring representation.

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