Legal i

Obscure offences

It may be a reasonable assumption to say that many motorists don’t remember much of what they learnt during their driving lessons. Habits creep in and motorists tend to develop their own style and standard of driving, for better or worse!


As a motorist, it is easy, or at least understandable, to assume that the legalities associated with driving are more straightforward than other laws. If you break the speed limit, you know you can be fined. The same can be said for running a red light and these are offences that are widely known amongst all motorists.


As motor law specialists, we often speak to clients who find themselves facing an allegation of being ìdrunk in charge of a motor vehicleî. The most common circumstances for this are when a motorist thinks they are doing the right thing by ìsleeping a few drinks offî in the back of their car before driving. Whilst their intentions are good, they are in fact still committing an offence if they are found to be over the prescribed limit whilst asleep in their car. It is alarming how many motorists we speak to have no idea that they could face criminal charges. 


There are a wide range of different offences that are considered to be quite obscure, and rather than get caught out, here is a summary of some of them to make you aware.


1. Overtaking at a pedestrian crossing


If approaching a pedestrian crossing and there is already a car waiting there, then overtaking them if the lights change is an offence. This is a simple matter of road safety: the stationary vehicle may be concealing a pedestrian already crossing the road and overtaking the car without knowing this increases the chances of an accident.


2. Flashing your lights to give way


Headlight flashes should only be used to warn drivers of your presence on the road and this is detailed clearly within the Highway Code. Essentially, the act of flashing your headlights is open to interpretation (especially as it is used in different ways in other countries), so think carefully before you reach for the stalk.


3. Sleeping while drunk in your car


If youíve enjoyed a drinking session and think youíre doing the right thing by sleeping in the car for the night, as opposed to driving home, then think again. The law states that those in

charge of a motor vehicle cannot be over the prescribed limit, and the penalties if convicted can include 10 penalty points on your licence, or disqualification from driving.


4. Using your smartphone as a navigation system in an unfixed position


Tougher penalties for using a mobile telephone whilst driving have been in force now since March 2017 and the penalty has now been increased from 3 points and a £100 fine, to 6 points and a £200 fine. This means that mobile phone offenders will face an increased risk of ìtotting upî and this could result in disqualification. You can only use your mobile telephone when stopped at the roadside before starting your journey, and during the journey it must be kept in a suitable cradle. The positioning of the cradle must not obstruct your view or affect your ability to control the vehicle in any way.


5. Letting animals out of the car while broken-down on the hard shoulder


The Highway Code clearly states that you must leave any animals in a broken-down vehicle when stranded on the hard shoulder. Only in an emergency should you consider letting them

out. If you don’t obey this and an accident is caused by your animal while you are on the hard shoulder, you could face a driving offence charge.


Now that youíre aware of these more obscure offences, you can nip to the shops, safe in the knowledge that these five obscure offences can be avoided.


Motoring Defence Solicitors are road traffic lawyers specialising in drink and drug driving offences. Based out of their central London offices, they provide free advice on a range of offences to motorists nationwide. You can contact Neil Sargeant for free on 0800 433 2880 or visit the website at

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