Motoring Offence Myths – Part Two

We often receive calls from individuals enquiring as to whether certain motoring law myths are true or whether they have committed an offence by behaving in a certain way. 

In today’s article, for a second time, we debunk some of the myths that exist surrounding motoring law. If this article is of interest to you, you may want to look at our previous article of this nature!

  1. Is it illegal to smoke a cigarette/e-cig whilst driving?
    • Potentially yes! Whilst it is not officially an offence to smoke whilst driving, if doing so causes you to become distracted and either not concentrate or drive carelessly – you could be pulled over by police. If authorities see fit they could charge you with ‘driving without due care and attention’, which could result in penalty points and/or a monetary fine. 
    • It is also important to note that smoking in a car that is carrying passenger/s under the age of 18 became illegal in England from of 1st October 2015.
  2. Is it illegal to drive barefoot?
    • This is a more obscure myth but essentially no this is not illegal. Whilst not illegal, we would not recommend you drive without shoes, as this can affect your ability to grip the pedals or brake as competently, as you would be able to with shoes on.
  3. Is it illegal to have a light on in your car whilst driving?
    • No, this is not an illegal act. However, you may be pulled over by a police officer and asked to switch your light off as this may cause a distraction to other road users.
  4. Is it illegal to not wear a seatbelt whilst driving or being a passenger in a vehicle?
    • Yes, the driver of the vehicle is responsible for making sure any passenger under 14 years old wear a seat belt or use an appropriate child restraint. It is possible to be exempt on medical grounds but you must have an exemption certificate to show police if you are stopped. An example of this may be pregnancy.
  5. Is it illegal to have open alcohol in my vehicle whilst driving, if only my passenger is drinking?
    • No, in England a passenger being driven in a car is legally allowed to consume alcohol or open alcohol in the vehicle. We would always recommend ensuring your passenger removes the alcohol containers once they leave your vehicle, as this may cause unwarranted suspicion if you do happen to be stopped by police. 
    • It may go without saying, but if you are supervising a learner driver, consuming alcohol with the vehicle is illegal!.
  6. It is illegal to splash a pedestrian whilst driving.
    • Yes, it is illegal to splash a pedestrian if you do so on purpose. This could be deemed a breach of section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, as it amounts to driving ‘without reasonable consideration for other persons’. If found guilty you could face a fine of up to £5000!!
  7. Is it illegal to drive with my sat nav on my phone?
    • No, if your phone is in a fixed position and remains as such the entire time you are driving or your engine is on this is completely fine. The issue usually arises when drivers interact with the device whilst driving, which can bring rise to a charge of ‘driving while using a mobile phone’.
  8. Is it illegal to take penalty points for another driver?
    • Yes, we are asked this questions very frequently by clients who are at risk of disqualification, under totting up procedures. It is illegal and fraudulent to claim to be the driver of a vehicle and take penalty points if this is not true. Whilst we can appreciate being faced with the prospect of losing your licence can be daunting, you can get yourself into serious trouble trying to deceive the police. As seen in the case of Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce, where the pair were sentenced to a eight month custodial sentence for perverting the course of justice, after taking Ms. Pryce took a number of speeding points for Mr. Huhne.

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