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Motoring laws FAQ

20 April 2022

What happens if you fail to inform the DVLA when you move home, or if you have a gap in your insurance cover? What do recent changes in the Highway Code mean for you? Motoring lawyer Manjinder Kang steers us around the country’s most common legal hazards...

Interior view of a smartly dressed man's hands on the steering while of a car

Who should I notify if I move home?

When you move, there are two very important things you must remember to do. The first is to notify the DVLA for the address on the driving licence to be changed. The second, and one which often gets missed, is to change the address on the V5 log book for the registered keeper of the vehicle. That is the address any authority will write to if the car is caught on camera.

If you don’t receive the notice – and therefore don’t respond within the time frame – you could be prosecuted for failing to provide driver details and face an additional six fixed penalty points.

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Who is responsible if a camera catches a car speeding, the driver or the registered keeper?

The purpose of a speed camera image is to show the car not the driver. It is then the registered keeper’s responsibility to notify the police who was driving. A Notice of Intended Prosecution will be sent to the registered keeper within 14 days.

What happens if there is a gap in my insurance?

Being caught driving without valid insurance carries a minimum £300 fine and six fixed penalty points, but can result in anything up to eight as well as a driving ban of up to 12 months, depending on the circumstances.

How does ‘totting up’ work?

Each offence carries a different level of points, from three to 11. If you commit more than one offence within three years and the penalty points add up to 12 or more, you could receive a driving ban.

After an accident, what does ‘exchanging details’ really mean?

If you have been in a collision, get the other driver’s name, date of birth, address, email address and phone number, as well as their vehicle insurers and policy number. Hand over all this information yourself. Take plenty of photos of the scene. If someone is being uncooperative, or you feel they may have been drinking, call the police, and try to obtain details of any nearby witnesses.

If it is a minor collision and you have swapped details, contact your insurance company when you get home. If the vehicle is badly damaged, you must not drive it, even if it will start. It is an offence to do so. Always call the police if someone is injured or if the cars can no longer be driven safely.

What are the recent changes to the Highway Code?

The Code dates back to 1931 and, in recent times, there have been a number of updates each year.

This year there has been a significant change with a new section about the ‘hierarchy of road users’. Drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists, horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles should now give way to pedestrians at a junction. Also, they should now give priority to pedestrians waiting at a zebra crossing. Previously, this only applied if a pedestrian was already on the crossing.

Cyclists are now advised to ride in the centre of lanes on quieter roads, in slow-moving traffic and when approaching a junction, to make themselves as visible as possible.

The Highway Code differentiates between what is legally binding and what is not by the use of the words ‘must’ and ‘should’. When the Code states you ‘must’ or ‘must not’ do something, not abiding by that is breaking the law. The use of ‘should’ and ‘should not’ is guidance only, although ignoring best practice can still have legal consequences.

Have you been on an amazing road trip that you would like to share with us? We're looking for fantastic journeys our readers have been on for a new feature in the magazine. Do email with details of where you went and when, and any great pictures, along with your recommendations for places that other road users can check out on the route.

How often do I have to renew my licence?

Photocard driving licences have to be renewed every ten years, and all licences have to be renewed when people reach 70. After that, the licence must be renewed every three years. If you drive without a licence, you risk a £1,000 fine, three to six penalty points, and your insurance may be invalid.

Can I get free legal representation if I am caught speeding?

Legal aid is not available if you are caught speeding and you will always have to pay for private representation. Duty solicitors are only available where you are suspected of an offence that carries a prison sentence.

Will my employer be aware if I am caught drink driving?

Drink driving is a criminal offence and will always be on your criminal record. It will show on your driving licence and any Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks for at least 11 years. So if you move jobs or are subject to regular DBS checks as part of your role, your employer will be notified.

Depending on your profession, the court may also notify your employer. Your contract of employment may also require you to notify them.

What does legal representation for a motoring offence cost?

It varies from practice to practice and will depend on the experience and location of the solicitor. On average, to prepare and represent you in court for a driving offence case, legal fees start from £1,500, excluding VAT.

Manjinder Kang is from Kang and Co solicitors

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.