The 10 Driving Offences You Have Probably Already Committed - And the Fines You Could Receive

Thursday 4th March 2021

As a driver, no matter your level of experience, you will be well aware that things like speeding and drink driving will land you with a hefty fine and possibly a prison sentence.

However, there are a number of obscure rules and regulations that you may not be aware of, and you could be facing a fine of up to £5,000 and even points on your licence if you find yourself hit with a dangerous driving charge.

That’s why we have compiled a list of the 10 most obscure driving laws that could land you in a heap of trouble without you even knowing. We’ve also provided some advice on the best way to avoid these charges and stay safe on the road.

Warning other drivers about speed cameras - even on social media

On the spot fine: £1,000

The Highway Code says you should “only flash your headlights to let other road users know that you are there. Do not flash your headlights to convey any other message or intimidate other road users”. So, if you get caught flashing your headlights to warn other drivers of a speed camera, and you get seen by a passing police car then you could face an on the spot fine of £1,000.

However, the section 89 of the Police Act 1996 also states that “any person who resists or wilfully obstructs a constable in the execution of his duty” is guilty of an offence, meaning that even warning other drivers of speed cameras off-road could land you with a charge and a fine!

How to Stay Safe

As much as you may think it’s helpful to warn other drivers about speeding cameras, remember that flashing your headlights can be dangerous as they can affect other drivers’ vision. Only use them to guide your way through dark roads or foggy weather.

When it comes to posting on social media - your name is attached to everything you post, so stay away from posting or commenting about speed cameras, or spots that you know are monitored by police.

Parking in the wrong direction

On the spot fine: £1,000

Rule 248 of the Highway Code states that after dark, “a car must not be parked at the side of the road facing against the direction of traffic unless in a recognised parking space”.

So watch out - facing the wrong way could cost you a pretty penny!

How to Stay Safe

Keep an eye out to see what direction other drivers are parked in along the road - you should always be parked in the direction that your car would drive. This is so that your rear reflectors are illuminated by headlights from oncoming traffic, making your vehicle more noticeable in low-visibility conditions.

Letting your dog stick his head out the window

On the spot fine: £1,000

Potential court fine: £5,000

Potential points: 9

Everyone loves to see a happy doggy hanging out of a car window, but be careful, because Rule 57 of the Highway Code states: “When in a vehicle, make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so that they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly.”

So, if there’s any chance your pet might start misbehaving, keep them in a harness to avoid a hefty fine.

How to Stay Safe

As much as your pet might love to sit up front with you and stick its head out of the window, animals can be unpredictable and could try to jump out of the vehicle or onto your lap - which would be dangerous for you, your pet, and other drivers. The safest option is always to keep any pet in a safe, secured pet carrier, and ensure that this is strapped in with a seatbelt if possible. We have more information on this in our Tips for Driving With Pets post.

Using an incorrect car-seat for babies and toddlers

On the spot fine: £500

Under the current law, children under 12 years old (or under 135cm tall) are legally obliged to use a child seat when travelling in a car. Recent research shows that one third of parents have broken this law by driving with children without a car seat.

Child seats also need to be suitable for the size of the child - not too big or too small. Make sure you’re regularly upgrading your booster seat as your kids grow or you could end up risking injury and a significant fine.

How to Stay Safe

Check the correct measurements for a child seat that will fit the size of your child - ensure it is never too large or too small depending on their age. Child seats are available which can be increased in size as the child grows. Never, ever let your child (or children of friends or family) travel in your car without sitting in an appropriate seat.

Driving with a dirty license plate

On the spot fine: £1,000

Most of us will admit we don’t clean our car often enough, but perhaps we would if we knew just how costly it could be! Drivers with dirty license plates or ones that are hard to read may face a fine of up to £1,000.

How to Stay Safe

The easiest way to make sure you avoid this fine is to regularly take your car to a car wash - or grab a bucket and sponge yourself! Another thing to remember is that some personalised license plates can be illegal - and we have more information about this here.

Paying with your phone at a Drive-Thru

On the spot fine: £200

Potential points: 6

While everyone is already aware that using your phone while driving is a big no-no - did you know that using your phone when behind the wheel is illegal in all cases, unless your engine is off and the handbrake is on.

This means that whipping your phone out to pay for your drive-thru order is technically illegal and could land you with a £200 fine and even 6 points on your license!

How to Stay Safe

You never know when you might be spotted - so avoid holding your phone while you’re at the wheel at all times. The safest way to pay is to use cash or a debit card, or ask a passenger to hold your phone and make the payment if you don’t have these to hand.

Putting your sat-nav in the wrong position

On the spot fine: £100

Potential court fine: £2,500

Potential points: 3

Yes, really! Although it's not technically illegal to place a sat nav in the middle of the windscreen, if your sat-nav is blocking your view out of the windscreen then it will be considered driving without due care and attention and could mean a £100 on-the-spot fine and three penalty points on your licence.

You could even be fined £1,000 if you challenge the charge in court.

How to Stay Safe

Ensure that your sat-nav is over to the left hand side of your steering wheel, and in no way blocks your vision through the windscreen.

Driving without sunglasses

On the spot fine: £100

Potential court fine: £2,500

Potential points: 3

Sunglasses don’t just make you look like a cool, stylish Hollywood star - they also help ensure our vision isn’t affected by bright sun flares while you’re driving. So, under the ‘Driving with due care and attention’ laws, if you can’t see the road without squinting then you’re putting yourself and others at risk.

If you’re seen to be struggling, then you’re risking a fine of up to £2,500 depending on how serious the issue is.

How to Stay Safe

Keep a spare pair of sunglasses in your glove box at all times so you can always be safe on unexpectedly sunny days. They don’t need to be expensive or stylish - they just need to protect your eyes!

Honking your horn

On the spot fine: £1,000

Rule 112 of the Highway Code states: “Never sound your horn aggressively. You must not use your horn while stationary on the road, or when driving in a built-up area between the hours of 11.30pm and 7am, except when another road user poses a danger.”

So, if you’re beeping to let a friend know you’ve arrived and it’s too early or too late then you could be hit with a fine of £1,000.

How to Stay Safe

Never use your horn unless you are in a moving vehicle and you need to warn others of your presence. Warning another driver or pedestrian about danger is the only time your horn is necessary - if you find yourself going to use it in any other situation, then rethink. If you’re letting someone know you have arrived - try a text or a call instead. If you’re thinking of honking your horn in anger, take three deep breaths and count to ten!

Blasting your radio

On the spot fine: £100

Potential court fine: £2,500

Potential points: 3

You might love cranking the radio up to 11 and belting out your favourite tunes when you’re on the motorway, but be careful, because if a police car spots you and considers your driving to be impaired because you’re distracted by your music then you could be hit with a fine for not driving with due care and attention.

This will mean a £100 on-the-spot fine, which can increase to up to £2,500 and 3 points on your license if it goes to court.

How to Stay Safe

If you love a singalong in your car - keep the volume at a level that would be acceptable in a public space, like a shop, or an office. If you can’t easily hear your passengers talking, then that also means you may not hear other dangers on the road and you could be putting yourself and others at risk.

Expert Comment

A spokesperson from Formula One Autocentres says, “After driving for a while, it can be easy to get comfortable and start driving in a way that can be considered careless. While you may be confident in your driving skills, don’t let this stop you from paying attention to the little things. Singing in the car, letting your dog climb over the seats, and using your horn unnecessarily may seem like things that everyone does - but it can be easy to cause an accident if you’re not focused.

“It’s also good to remember that speeding cameras aren’t there to cost you money - they are there to keep you safe. The best way to avoid fines is to simply ensure that you’re not driving over the speed limit. Again, no matter how good a driver you are, driving too fast is dangerous for you and others on the road.”

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