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Motoring offences you may not realise you could be fined for

Carlton Boyce / 30 March 2017 ( 16 May 2019 )

These obscure motoring offences could land you with a fine!

Zigzag road markings

Many of you told us that you loved reading our previous article ‘Six Obscure Motoring Laws’, which prompted us to research some more obscure motoring laws that you might not be aware of.

Here are six more of our favourites, but please do let us know on if we’ve missed any of yours!

Idling your car whilst waiting

We've all done it - pulled up on double yellows whilst a passenger nips into the shop, or waited to pick someone up from school or work, without turning off our engine. We're not stopping for long, we tell ourselves, and we don't want other motorists to assume we've parked - plus we want to be able to move off quickly if needed. 

But by idling your engine instead of parking up and switching it off, you are committing an offence. Idling adds huge, unnecessary amounts of harmful exhaust fumes to the air, most of which are linked to climate change and lung diseases.

Under Rule 123 of The Highway Code, drivers: "MUST NOT leave a parked vehicle unattended with the engine running or leave a vehicle engine running unnecessarily while that vehicle is stationary on a public road. Generally, if the vehicle is stationary and is likely to remain so for more than a couple of minutes, you should apply the parking brake and switch off the engine to reduce emissions and noise pollution."

If you are asked by an authorised person to move on or switch your engine off and you refuse to comply after a minute, you can currently be given a fixed penalty fine of between £20-£80, but in May 2019 the environment secretary, Michael Gove, said instant fines should be considered by the government, in order to tackle pollution, and that repeat offenders could end up with fines of up to £1000.

Being drunk in charge of a mobility scooter

Yes, it is illegal to be drunk in charge of a mobility scooter, although you will be charged with being ‘Drunk while in charge on any highway or other public place of any carriage, horse, cattle, or steam engine’, which is an offence under Section 12 of the Licensing Act 1872.

As mobility scooters aren’t covered by existing motoring legislation, the driver cannot be banned but they will be fined and could even be jailed.

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Asking a stranger for parking money

Asking a stranger for spare change for the parking meter could be an offence under Section 4 of the Vagrancy Act 1824, which states: ‘Every person committing any of the offences herein-before mentioned; … going about as a gatherer or collector of alms’.

The penalty is a fine and up to three months in prison. You have been warned…

Parking on the wrong side of the road at night

Unless a uniformed police officer says otherwise, you must not park on a road at night with your car facing against the direction of the traffic flow, unless you are parked in a recognised parking space or are parked on a one-way street. (Road vehicles [Construction and Use] Regulations 1986).

It’s a good idea to try to avoid parking on the wrong side of the road regardless of whether you’re fined or not - if your car is facing the wrong way then oncoming vehicles cannot see the red reflectors designed to warn them of your car’s presence; plus if you pull out at night with your lights on, you risk blinding oncoming cars.

On the subject of lights, the Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations 1989 also say that you must also use your parking lights if you are parked at the side of the road or in a layby during the hours of darkness in a place where the speed limit is greater than 30mph.

Is parking on the pavement illegal?

School entrance markings

It is against the law to stop on any school entrance markings, even briefly to let someone out, or pick someone up.

Nor must you park on the ‘zig-zag’ road markings near a pedestrian crossing; doing so is considered a very serious offence and could land you with penalty points on your driving licence in addition to a substantial fine of up to £1,000.

Saga Car Insurance: Join over a million drivers already benefiting from our outstanding cover and personal service for the over 50s. Get a quote and find out more!

Supervising learner drivers

You must not use your mobile phone or be over the drink-drive limit while you are supervising a learner driver. You’ll also need to wear glasses if you would normally do so while driving yourself.   

The law also demands that you check the car has a current MOT (if it is old enough to need one), is taxed, and insured. You’ll also need to check that it is roadworthy by checking that the seatbelts and lights work, and that the tyres meet the minimum legal requirements.

Would you still pass your driving test?

Smoking in your car

It is now an offence to smoke in your own privately owned car if you are carrying a child under the age of eighteen with you.

It is also an offence to smoke in any company vehicle if it is shared with another person, even if the other person smokes too. It is also illegal to smoke in one if the vehicle is shared among more than one driver.

However, you can smoke in a company car or van if you are the only person that drives it and your employer gives you permission to do so.

Saga Car Insurance: Join over a million drivers already benefiting from our outstanding cover and personal service for the over 50s. Get a quote and find out more!

Next article: Does a policeman have to be wearing their helmet to be able to fine you? Can you be fined for driving too slowly? We look at the laws around speeding, fines, and penalty points  >>>


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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.