Everyone knows that the traffic police are out in force these days. From roadside cameras to unmarked vehicles there’s plenty of ways that they can detect dodgy driving and illegal behaviour from drivers. Of course, the ideal way to avoid fines is to be careful, cautious and obey the law.
However, if you do decide to take matters into your own hands – what kinds of penalties and fines can you expect for breaking some of the most common laws of the road?
Driving Offence Number 1: Speeding
Even though apps like Waze and the good old Garmin Sat Nav now show you the location of speed cameras, you’d be surprised at how many people get caught out by putting their foot down a little bit too much.
Speeding is without question our favourite road offence, and people even joke and laugh about speed awareness courses. There’s another side to this bad practice however, and that’s the difference even 10mph can make on the urban streets if you were to hit a small child or a dog.
Speed limits are there for a reason and should be properly obeyed at all times.
Many people suggest that the police only enforce speeding laws when you’re a good 10% over the limit, but there’s nothing that really backs this up – and following this rule of thumb could get you in a lot of trouble.
Penalties: if you don’t get a chance to go on a speed awareness course, the usual fine is £100 and 3 points on your license. Unless the speed is deemed to be dangerous, such as driving at over 100mph, where you could get a heavier fine or even be banned from driving altogether.
Drinking and Drug Driving
Drink driving has been a problem for a long time and the police are now waking up to drug driving, which can cause a similar problem to reaction times and awareness in drivers.
There is no excuse for getting behind the wheel when you’re inebriated and people have been known to take keys off drivers and be quite firm at parties to ensure that drink or drug driving doesn’t happen. Remember it’s not only your safety at risk, as you could easily hurt or destroy the life of someone else on the road.
Drunk and drug driving has a real stigma. Many people who are charged with this offence end up losing their jobs and picking up a criminal record.
Penalties: the standard fine for driving under the influence is a ban, an unlimited fine and up to 6 months in prison. Should the offence involve a crash, or even worse, a fatality then this can rise to 14 years in prison.
Mobile Phone Use Behind the Wheel
This one is definitely becoming more commonplace on the UK roads. You only have to pause at a set of traffic lights to see people using their phones or looking down at their crotch to hide the handset. Some people are even brazen enough to text or update social media when they should have eyes on the road.
Many experts now say that mobile phone use behind the wheel is more dangerous than driving under the influence. The police have been seriously cracking down on this offence and you should consider turning the phone off or throwing it in the back of the car when you sit down in the driver’s seat. It only takes a second to look at your phone – but it takes even less time for a serious accident to occur.
Penalties: Police are seriously cracking down on this offence and many sources claim that mobile phone use when driving is more dangerous than drink and drug driving. Expect an instant fine of £200 and 6 penalty points – or even up to £1,000 in fine if your case goes to court.
You may remember the famous case of the person eating breakfast behind the steering wheel – or be aware of the more pressing concerns about vape users and the clouds of smoke they create when in control of a vehicle.
When a driver is distracted they tend to wander around in their lane to erratic stopping and starting. Any kind of poor performance and occasionally road rage can be classed as careless driving.
Penalties: You can receive an on the spot fine of £100 and 3 penalty points – or in more serious cases that find their way to court the maximum penalties enforceable include £2,500 in fines and disqualification. Should you be involved in a serious accident leading to a fatality then the court has the power to use unlimited fines and up to 5 years in prison.
Last on our list is dangerous driving. Hopefully, none of our readers ever engage in this kind of behaviour. It can include racing people, going at extreme speeds and aggressive behaviour on the road, all of which could potentially lead to life-threatening situations. According to the law, this is driving behaviour that falls far below the recognised standard of care and attention and carries a hefty penalty.
Penalties: cases of dangerous driving usually find their way into the court system where a prosecution can lead to unlimited fines, driving bans and up to 14 years in prison if it can be shown that your driving has endangered lives.
Stay Safe and Be Cautious
As you’ll probably be aware after reading this article, most of the offences on this list can be avoided by taking your driving more seriously. Always be attentive when in control of a vehicle and never disrespect a car or other drivers by turning the keys in the ignition when you’re not fully in control of yourself.