8 things you do in your car that are illegal

Once you’ve read the highway code from cover to cover, been through the rigorous training of passing your theory test, and finally aced your practical driving test, you’re all set to get out on the road. Knowing about the different road signs and the various speed limits for different roads, you may think that your driving knowledge covers it all. But, there are some everyday habits that could land you in big trouble. Here are 8 things you do in your car that are actually illegal (a few of these shocked us too).

1. Careless Driving

I know what you’re thinking, your eyes are always on the road and even your mates would rate you the best driver in the group, BUT have you ever been late for work and disastrously tried to multi task en route? *Guilty* Maybe you’re trying to eat a piece of toast at the wheel, re applied your lippy or just attempted to adjust the radio whilst driving (who wants to listen to that David Guetta tune AGAIN?). All these activities, and plenty of others are deemed as ‘careless driving’.

If a police officer noticed you without both hands on the wheel, then you could receive a fine and points on your licence. A traffic violation for careless driving will usually result in a fine of around £200 and up to six points on your licence, which will usually bump your car insurance up too. Careless driving maintains that you were not in total control of your vehicle, which is the real reason for the fine and points.

2. Taking prescription drugs before driving

You may have an ailment that requires medication, or just have a common cold, but should you take prescription drugs before getting behind the wheel then you may well be banned from the road. March 2015 saw the introduction of new road-side drug screening devices across the UK, along with new driving limits for a string of prescription drugs.

Since the introduction of this, the number of drivers charged with drug driving, which comes with an unlimited fine, up to six months in prison, a one-year driving ban, and a criminal record has climbed by 140%. Over the counter drugs including Codeine, Diazepam and Methadone could see you banned. Advice is simple, always read the safety leaflet included with your medication or alternatively check with your pharmacist or GP before getting behind the wheel.

3. Splashing pedestrians with a puddle

Weather conditions in the UK mean that we are never too far from a puddle. I’m sure in your lifetime you will have felt the wrath of a lorry driver passing through a puddle and leaving you drenched with an ice-cold shower. You’re likely to have been behind the wheel and dying to drive at full speed through the puddle yourself.

However, did you know that it is actually against the law to do this. If you happen to get caught, you will most likely receive a fixed penalty notice, which will usually weigh in at £50, £100, £200 or £300 depending on the severity of the offence. In a few unusual cases, drivers have been handed public order offences after driving deliberately through puddles to target pedestrians, the charge for this would again reflect the offence.

4. Sounding your horn in anger

Whilst you are told to use your horn to make other drivers aware of your presence, mainly in areas of bad visibility, when crossing bridges or navigating around corners, you cannot sound your horn in anger.

We’ve all been there, in a moment of road rage against another driver. You beep your horn loudly (sometimes coupled with yelling expletives). However, by sounding your horn in anger, you are breaking the law and could be issued with a £30 fine for ‘inappropriate use of the horn’.

It’s important to also remember that should you use your horn between 11.30pm and 7am in a non-emergency situation, you are breaking the law too.

5. Using an unfixed mobile phone as a sat nav 

Struggling to find your way? The easiest solution is usually to Google map your way there. Though, the inclusion of new mobile phone driving laws mean that using an unfixed mobile phone as a sat nav can land you with as much as a £200 fine and up to six points on your licence. This has doubled from £100 and three points as part of a crackdown over the increase in offences.

6. Allowing dirt to obscure your number plate

Your registration plate must be visible at all times when out on the road, so it’s not surprising that if you’ve been driving down country lanes, splashing mud everywhere, or you’ve just not got around to getting your car valeted this month, then you may receive an on-the-spot fine by police for £100. However, the maximum penalty for this offence is a whopping £1,000 and can even mean you fail your MOT. Simply make sure that your reg plate is always visible and you won’t have any problems.

7. Smoking in the car with passengers under 18

Whilst you can actually smoke in the car, providing all passengers are above the age of 18, UK driving laws make it illegal to smoke in the car if any of your passengers are under the age of 18. As the driver, you are also responsible for any other passengers who choose to smoke if there is a child present. This clause was originally put in place to reduce the amount of passive smoking, which see’s second-hand smoke, containing well over 4,000 chemicals still present in the air for two hours, even with the window open. The fine for this offence is £50, however poor legislation has resulted in the prosecution of this proving extremely difficult.

8. Failing to remove snow or ice from your car roof

Picture this, it’s been snowing overnight and you are running late for work. You grab the de-icer, throw it on the front and rear windscreens, check your side mirrors and windows are clear and jump in the car to make your journey.

Failing to clear any excess snow from the roof of your car can lumber you with a £60 fine on the spot. Snow and ice can make other drivers’ view unclear, as well as falling off and obstructing other road user’s visibility.