10 obscure driving offences most drivers have committed

Warning drivers about speed cameras, dogs loose in cars, parking in the wrong direction and more.

There are a number of obscure rules and regulations that you may not be aware of, and you could be risking points on your licence and fines if you don’t keep them in mind while driving.

Formula One Autocentres compiled a list of the 10 most obscure driving laws.

1. 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.

2. 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”. 

3. Letting your dog stick his head out the window

On the spot fine: £1,000

Potential court fine: £5,000

Potential points: 9

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 fine.

4. 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.

5. Driving with a dirty number plate

On the spot fine: £1,000

Drivers with dirty number plates or ones that are hard to read may face a fine of up to £1,000.

6. 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 using your phone out to pay for your drive-thru order is technically illegal and could land you with a £200 fine and even six points on your licence.

7. 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.

8. 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. 

9. 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.” 

10. Blasting your radio

On the spot fine: £100

Potential court fine: £2,500

Potential points: 3

Being 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 three points on your license if it goes to court.

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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