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How to know what’s illegal and what’s against the Highway Code while driving:

01 March, 2017

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Whilst the majority of us would never risk the lives of others on the road by driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, or using your phone at the wheel, there are a number of distractions that many do not realise are illegal, or prohibited under the Highway Code. It’s easy to get in your car and bob your head to some loud music, but did you know that it’s considered to be a distraction under the Highway Code? It’s also considered a distraction to drink coffee whilst driving, which many may be forgiven for not realising with the increase in convenient drive-thrus that seem to be popping up on every corner. So we’ve put together a handy guide so you know what’s illegal, and what’s best to avoid whilst driving.


  • Using a phone while driving or in traffic, or when supervising a learner driver. Punishment: 6 penalty points and a £200 fine (as of March 1st 2017), but if the case is taken to court the fine can be up to £1000.
  • Driving whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This includes legal prescription drugs if they impair your ability to drive, or if you have taken more than your prescribed dose. This includes drugs such as Diazepam, Methadone, Lorazepam, opioid based drugs and many more. A full list can be found on the government website. You can also be prosecuted if you have taken drugs that you weren’t prescribed. Punishment: 1 year minimum ban, unlimited fine, and up to 6 months in prison (unless someone is killed in which case the maximum sentence is 14 years).
  • Not wearing a seatbelt. Other passengers can also be fined, unless they are under the age of 14 in which case it is the driver’s responsibility to make sure they are wearing a seatbelt. Punishment: Fine of up to £500
  • Reckless use of the car horn when driving. This also applies when the car is stationary, or between the hours or 11:30am and 7am unless there is serious danger. Punishment: £30 fixed penalty notice from police, or up to a £5000 fine from the council under noise pollution laws.
  • Smoking when driving with anyone under the age of 18. This is illegal as of the 1st October 2015. Punishment: Both driver and smoker can be fined £50 
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Not recommended but ‘legal’ although against the Highway Code:

These could also fall under careless driving, but it comes down to the discretion of the police. Careless driving is punishable with a £100 fine and 3 points on your driver’s licence. It may also go before the court in which case you will face higher penalties.

  • Driving barefoot or wearing unsuitable footwear. Unsuitable footwear includes flip-flops, shoes with thick soles or limited ankle movement, heavy shoes or high-heels.
  • Eating or drinking behind the wheel. This is classes as a distraction under the highway code along with:
    • Loud music
    • Trying to read maps
    • Inserting a CD or tuning/starting/adjusting the radio
    • Arguments with passengers or other road users
    • Smoking (unless with people under 18 where it is illegal)
    • Changing your clothes, or doing your hair and makeup whilst driving aren’t specifically prohibited but could fall under driving without due care and attention. Punishment: Between 3 and 9 points on your licence plus a fine of up to £3500. 

If you need advice due to a motoring offence you can contact our team today for free initial advice by filling out a contact form or calling us on the number at the top of your screen. 

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