There are a lot of reasons for getting a fine while driving these days. Speeding, using your mobile phone, driving in the middle lane – all of these offences can land you a hefty fine and penalty points on your licence. And while most of us are aware of the biggies, some smaller offences may have slipped under your radar. And the penalties for these offences can vary from a few quid to thousands of pounds. So here are some of the lesser known offences that could cost land you in hot water.
14 lesser known motoring offences
1. Failing to register for a SORN
Taking your unused cars off the road isn’t enough for it to be legally compliant. Make sure to declare its status with a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification), or risk a fine of up to £2,500.
2. Failing to insure an off-road vehicle that has not been SORN
You’ve taken the car off the road, you have the SORN, but is it insured? If the answer is no, you could be fined up to £1000.
3. Driving without a valid MOT
Although we all know it’s important to get our cars MOT’d, there are a lot of misconceptions about when you MOT is valid. The first MOT is due on the 3rd anniversary of a cars registration, then it must be renewed every year after. There is no “grace period” surrounding the MOT expiry date, but if your car is retested within the month prior to expiry, the anniversary date is “preserved”. So if your MOT expires on 23rd February 2018 and you have it MOT tested from 23rd January, your new MOT expiry date will be 23rd February 2019.
That being said, if you have your car MOT tested early, and it fails, it is an offence to continue driving it, even if you still have “time left” on the previous certificate. The database only registers the most recent test results. So if your car fails, the only time you can drive it is to and from a testing or repair centre where it is booked in. And the penalty for driving after your car fails its MOT is a massive £2,500 fine, a driving ban and three points on your licence.
4. Driving without current road tax
The changes to the VED rules means buying and selling cars can leave you open to a fine if you don’t follow the correct process. The seller is responsible for informing the DVLA of the change of ownership and ‘cash in’ the remaining tax. As as for buyers, they’ll need to tax their new car before getting behind the wheel. Failure to follow these new rules can result in a fine of up to £1,000.
5. Failure to renew photocard licence
Like your passport, you photocard licence has an expiry date and needs renewing every ten years. If you don’t, the potential fine is up to £1,000.
6. Not wearing a seatbelt where one is fitted
If you’re in a car with seatbelts, you are legally required to wear it. If you’re caught not wearing it, the fine is up to £500. And this offence doesn’t just apply to the driver. If you’re over 14, you are personally responsible for wearing your seatbelt and will be the one hit by the fine for failing to do so. Only passengers under the age of 14 are the driver’s responsibility.
7. Flashing your headlights
According to the Highway Code, the only reason to flash your headlights is to “let other road users know that you are there”. And while you probably won’t be fined for flashing your light to let someone go, or to say thank you, there is one situation where you’re more likely to be landed with a £1,000 fine – warning other drivers of a speed trap.
8. Beeping a horn for any other reason than alerting traffic of your presence
Similar to flashing your headlights, the actual parameters for using your horn is actually very limited. According to the highway code, it is only to be used to alert other drivers of your presence, and should not be used while the car is stationary. The fine for this offence isn’t going to break the bank, however. If you’re caught, it’ll only cost £30.
9. Throwing things out of the window
No one likes seeing someone throw their rubbish out of the car window, but there is some comfort in knowing that if a driver, or anyone in their car, decides the road is their bin and they get caught, they face a fine of £75.
10. Splashing pedestrians with puddles
Driving through a puddle and splashing a pedestrian isn’t just bad manners, it’s a motoring offence that can have big consequences. The maximum punishment is a whopping £5,000 and up to 9-points on your licence.
11. Driving too slowly
Although there is no legal minimum speed, driving slowly or braking unnecessarily can be considered under the scope of ‘inconsiderate driving’ and can hold a penalty anywhere from a verbal warning to 9-points on your licence.
12. Allowing dirt to obscure your number plate
A dirty number plate can cause you more trouble than you may think. Not only is it a point of failure on the MOT, it could also land you an on-the-spot fine of £100, with the maximum penalty being £1,000.
13. Paying for food using your phone at a drive-thru
With the increased penalties for mobile phone usage, a slightly odd offence has emerged – paying for food at a drive-thru with your phone. The resulting penalty can be a spot fine of £200 and up to 6-points on your licence.
14. Swearing or giving rude hand gestures to other road users
Although you may be enraged by other road users and their driving, taking a more zen stance could end up sparing you a hefty fine. Falling under the category of “disorderly behaviour”, swearing or making rude gestures can result in a fine of 75% of weekly income.