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Little-known driving offences you may be guilty of

We all know it’s illegal to drink and drive or exceed the speed limit, but there are several little-known offences that carry some not-so-little penalties.

Little-known driving offences you may be guilty of

October, 2019

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Splashing pedestrians

Splashing pedestrians

It’s a classic comic scene – a car drives through a deep puddle and drenches a pedestrian on the pavement. But it’s not so funny if you’re the one getting soaked. And if a police officer witnesses the event, the joke will be on the driver – because they could face a fine of up to £5,000. Driving “without reasonable consideration for other persons” is an offence under The Road Traffic Act 1988, and generally incurs a £100 fine and three penalty points. But if the driver is found guilty of a “clear act of incompetence, selfishness, impatience, and aggressiveness”, then the maximum fine of £5,000 may be applied.

Dirty number plates

Dirty number plates

This is an area the authorities have been paying more attention to since the introduction of Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras in the mid-2000s – so it’s worth knowing where you stand. Under Section 43 of the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act of 1994, it is an offence to drive with number plates that are “obscured” or “not easily distinguishable” – and that includes dirty plates. If you’re prosecuted, you could face a fine of up to £1,000.

Honking your horn

Honking your horn

Your horn should be used only to warn other road users of potential danger. And if you toot it in irritation or anger, or to “gee up” the driver in front of you, then you’re carrying out an offence liable to prosecution. In fact, if you use your horn at any time while stationary, you’re breaking the law.

Running the engine to keep warm

Running the engine to keep warm

We’ve all been there… you’re waiting to pick someone up on a cold day and sit with the engine running to keep the car warm. But unless you’re stuck in traffic or waiting at a junction, it’s an offence to leave your engine running while your car is stationary.

Eating at the wheel

Eating at the wheel

Although it’s not technically illegal to eat while driving, grab a bite whilst on the move and you could be prosecuted for careless driving – which carries a fixed penalty of £100 plus 3 points on your licence. That may sound harsh, but according to research carried out by the University of Leeds, snacking at the wheel slows driver response time by up to 44%, and that could make the difference between having an accident and avoiding one.

An empty screenwash bottle

An empty screenwash bottle

According to Section 34 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986, it’s an offence to drive with an empty windscreen washer bottle. And although you may feel hard done by if you’re prosecuted for failing to top up your screenwash, the law actually makes good sense. Because if your windscreen gets splattered with road grime while you’re driving in the fast lane of the motorway, it can be a pretty hazardous situation, both for you and other road users.

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