There were a number of changes to motoring law enacted in 2015. As Sarah Sillars, chief executive officer of road safety charity IAM, put it: “This year saw some of the biggest changes in motoring procedures we have ever seen. It is very important drivers and riders are fully up-to-date on what is happening – they will affect everyone in one way or another.”
It’s a potential minefield – and, as ever, ignorance is no defence – so here is our guide to the changes that affect you and your car!
Alternatively, read our guide to the motoring law changes in 2016 - and the ones that might be happening in 2017...
1. Driving licences
We’ve covered the changes to your driving licence in detail here but in brief, the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) will no longer be issuing the paper element of your driving licence.
When you need to hire a car, or otherwise confirm whether or not you have penalty points on your licence, you have to obtain a ‘check code’ from the DVLA, which lets a third-party inspect your licence online. Following consultation, the length of time the check code is now valid for has been extended to 21 days.
How to avoid the driving licence scam
2. Paying for your VED
Most people are now aware that, as of the 1 October 2014, you no longer have to display a tax disc in the windscreen of your car but not everyone knows that you can now pay for your VED (or vehicle excise duty) in monthly instalments via Direct Debit, making it easier to budget for.
Why forgetfulness might cost you your car
3. Selling a secondhand car
New rules brought in in 2015 mean that you must cash in the VED (or car tax) on your car when you sell it, leaving the new owner to buy his or her own.
The refund is automatically issued when the DVLA receives the completed V5 (vehicle registration document) telling it that you have sold, scrapped, exported or declared SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) on your car.
Are you allowed to sell your car on a public highway?
4. Middle lane hog fine
The £1,000 ‘middle lane hog’ fine levied on a motorist in Yorkshire was a result of a tweak to existing laws that enable the police to issue a fixed penalty notice (or FPN) to drivers it believes are driving inconsiderately by committing offences such as ‘tailgating’, ‘undertaking’, or refusing to move from an overtaking lane when the road ahead is clear.
Read more about penalties for careless and inconsiderate driving
5. Drug driving
It has been an offence since March 2015 to drive under the influence of illegal drugs, such as cannabis, LSD and cocaine – a common-sense move that few would argue against.
However, the legislation, which affects drivers in England and Wales, also includes some prescribed drugs such as diazepam, methadone and morphine.
If you are unsure whether your medication falls under the new law, you should seek advice from your doctor as those convicted of the offence will face an automatic driving ban, an unlimited fine, a possible jail sentence and a criminal record, bringing the offence in line with existing drink drive laws.
What you need to know about the drink driving limit
From October 1, 2015, it has been an offence in England to smoke in a car containing anyone under the age of 18. Anyone flouting the law could face a fine of up to £50 - and if the driver is not the one smoking they will still be fined, as will the smoker.
More great reasons to give up smoking
7. Speed limits
The speed limit for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) in England and Wales has recently been raised from 40mph to 50mph on single carriageways and from 50mph to 60mph on dual carriageways.
Speeding myths dispelled
8. Drink driving laws in Scotland
The blood alcohol limit for drink driving in Scotland was lowered to 50mg per 100ml of blood in December 2014, in line with most of Europe. The rest of the UK stayed at 80mg per 100ml.
Next article: Four new motoring laws for 2016 >>>
Enjoyed this article? Why not sign up for our Technology and Motoring newsletter? Or enter our giveaway for the chance to win a Haynes Build Your Own Drone Manual worth £22.99...