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Surprising driving laws and the penalties they carry

Mobile phone used as a sat nav

New research has revealed some of the most obscure and least well-known traffic laws.

The study for the UK’s biggest online car garage and repair marketplace,, shows that almost half (49%) of British motorists admit to breaking traffic laws.

And half of those drivers who admit to breaking traffic laws said they do so because they don’t pay attention, while the other half do it consciously because they think they can get away with it. That equates to 10.5 million motorists in the UK.

Most little-known traffic laws

1. Using a phone as Sat Nav

Drivers who use their phone as a Sat Nav and don’t have it in a fixed position are breaking the law. If a driver is caught using a hand-held mobile phone or similar device while driving or riding, they’ll get an automatic fixed penalty notice – six penalty points and a fine of £200. If their case goes to court, the driver may face disqualification on top of a maximum fine of £1,000.

2. Taking a boozy nap in your car

It’s illegal for a person to sleep in a car if they’re over the drink drive limit, because it is classed as being drunk when in charge of a vehicle. The penalties for being convicted of being drunk in charge of a vehicle will vary and the consequences can be serious. Drivers could be handed a discretionary qualification from driving for up to 12 months, endorsement of 10 penalty points and a fine of up to £5,000.

3. Flashing

Flashing lights can be misinterpreted and to blame for an accident, which is why it is illegal to flash other drivers under rule 110 of the Highway Code, regardless of whether it’s to say thank you or to signal. The only time it is permitted is when a driver needs to alert another driver of their presence. There are no fixed penalties for this offence, however drivers notifying other motorists of a speed camera can be handed a £1,000 fine and even a month’s imprisonment.

4. No night time beeping or when the car is stationary

It is against the law to beep in a residential area between 11:30pm and 7:00am and for a driver to honk while their car is stationary, unless they are warning another motorist of their presence. The penalty is a fine that can range from £30 to £1,000.

5. No more pavement parking

If a driver parks on the pavement, and their vehicle is obstructing the footpath, they are breaking the law under Section 22 of the Road Traffic Act. Fines of up to £1,000 can be handed out depending on the severity of the offence.

6. Careful with the hazards

The only time drivers can legally use hazard lights when the car is moving is when they are on a motorway or unrestricted dual carriageway, and they need to warn drivers behind of a hazard or obstruction ahead. There is no fixed penalty, however often in extreme cases where the misuse of hazards has contributed to dangerous driving, hefty fines can be given.

Al Preston, co-founder of, said: “Some might think the less well-known laws we’ve revealed are pointless or the penalties are harsh, but I think it’s important to remember that driving can be very dangerous and all drivers should brush up on their highway code, because new driving laws are introduced all the time, and you might find yourself in some hot water if you’re caught by a very vigilant police officer.”


About Gareth Herincx

Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who's worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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