Motorists are at greater risk of committing offences unknowingly compared with pedestrians. The moment you get into your vehicle, you are immediately subject to hundreds of laws. Rather than let you get caught out, below are some common scenarios that may lead to criminal charges.
Everybody knows that drink driving is an offence but, did you know that if you own a motorhome it is still (potentially) an offence to drink alcohol in it? There is a relatively unknown offence of “being drunk whilst in charge of a motor vehicle” and this is what many motorists get charged with when they intend to sleep a few drinks off in the vehicle before driving home.
Driving with pets
Our canine friends accompany us on more journeys than ever before, and an offence is not committed simply by having your dog in the car. If your pet is causing a distraction to you, or to other road users, then you could face charges of careless or dangerous driving – the latter of which carries severe penalties, including lengthy disqualifications and prison sentences. We suspect you wouldn’t be quite as enamoured with old Rover if he landed you in the doghouse…
Flip flop driving
Flip flops (and other types of footwear) are widely considered to be unsuitable for driving. Wearing them isn’t an offence in itself, but if your shoes reduce your control of the vehicle, then you could be charged with careless driving.
It’s a wonder any of us like driving when we can’t even sing without risk being slapped with a conviction. But alas yes, in a similar fashion to the above entry, singing (or loud music) may be considered to be too distracting for you to maintain proper control of your vehicle.
Arguing with passengers
As frustrating as backseat drivers may be (you all know who you are!), it is better and safer for everybody if: a) they shut up, or b) the driver ignores them. Bickering during a journey undeniably takes your attention from the road, which is not conducive to safe driving.
This is probably something we are all guilty of, simply because if you get into a taxi when you’re ill and don’t tell the driver – just like that you’re a criminal. That may be slightly dramatic, but true, as the law stipulates that it is the driver’s decision whether to let you enter the taxi if unwell, and not disclosing the illness to them is what creates the offence.
Paying with a mobile phone
Petrol station: “That will be £40.00 please”. You: “Oh no I’ve forgotten my card. Do you accept Apple Pay? Great, I’ll pay with that!” You’ve just committed an offence of using a mobile phone whilst driving, which carries six penalty points. Being stationary in traffic, at a petrol station or even in a McDonald’s drive-thru does not mean you can legally use your phone. Granted, it’s unlikely you would be caught, unless there is a very strict officer behind you, but still, it’s worth knowing just in case.
Splashing through puddles
Driving through a puddle and splashing a pedestrian on the pavement is effectively driving without reasonable consideration under the Road Traffic Act. So, the next time you see that poor soul with 20 shopping bags standing dangerously close to a puddle at the bus stop, think about the penalty points and £100 fine you may be hit with if they report you.
Any interior lighting may be deemed a distraction and we represented one client previously who was charged after the oversized disco ball-style gear stick was found to be too much of a distraction. You can understand why…
Most of the scenarios ultimately boil down to whether you are distracted or in proper control of your vehicle. Whilst you might think your concentration is unshakeable and you’re the most skilled flip-flop driver the world has ever seen… the best thing to do is not to take unnecessary risks. Wear proper shoes, don’t drink alcohol, avoid arguing with passengers, don’t shout at your dog or sing at the top of your voice on your way to the in-laws. Stay safe and keep your attention on the road and all will be well.
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 www.drinkdrugdriving.co.uk.