5 Laws You Didn’t Know You Could Break When Driving To A Festival< Back to blog
The UK festival season is well underway, and for many, driving is the easiest way to travel. However, did you know that there are five laws you may be breaking when driving to and from festivals this summer which could land you with a driving fine or even a ban?
Read on to find out how to avoid breaking the law when you travel to a festival.
1. Dirty number plates
The UK’s unpredictable weather means heavy rainfall is not unexpected, and as many festivals are field-based, muddy driving conditions are often unavoidable.
Although there is no law against having a dirty car, there is when it comes to keeping your number plates clear and easy to read. The Highway Code states that drivers must take special care to maintain their car and ensure it is working properly, stating “lights, indicators, reflectors and number plates MUST be kept clean and clear”.
Driving with number plates which are obscured or unreadable could risk landing a £1,000 fine, so make sure to check there’s no dirt obstructing it before you drive home.
2. Overloading your car
With everything from a tent to camping chairs, food, and clothing needed for a festival, you may end up overloading your car. Each car has a maximum loading weight, including passengers and luggage, so make sure you read up in your vehicle’s handbook before setting off.
If this weight limit is ignored, it can pose a danger to your vehicle, placing additional strain on the tyres and other components, affecting the handling, and increasing your risk of having an accident.
On top of the safety risks, if you are caught driving an overloaded car, you can face a fine of up to £300 and have up to three penalty points issued to your driving licence. If you are involved in an accident while your vehicle is loaded beyond its maximum limit, this can also invalidate your car insurance.
3. Being tired
After a few nights sleeping in a tent, you might be low on sleep, but driving when you are tired significantly increases your risk of an accident.
Under the Highway Code, within the fitness to drive section it states you must “not begin a journey if you are tired” and “get sufficient sleep before embarking on a long journey.” Aside from behaviours such as driving aggressively and ignoring traffic lights, dangerous driving also covers “being sleepy.”
If you are found guilty of dangerous driving, you could be hit with an unlimited fine, a driving ban and up to 14 years in prison depending on the seriousness, so make sure you’re well rested before driving home, even if that means leaving later than planned.
4. Charging for lifts
Driving friends to and from festivals is not uncommon but something as simple as charging a few pounds for the journey could get you in trouble. That’s because drivers aren’t allowed to make a profit unless they have a valid taxi or private hire licence.
If you’re making a profit from giving lifts then you’re technically running an unlicensed taxi. Taking petrol money and a contribution towards running costs is fine, although the problem arises if you take more money than you spend on fuel.
Anyone found to be making a profit could be charged with illegally operating as a taxi and drivers could face a £2,500 fine and may even have their insurance invalidated, points on their licence or be disqualified.
5. Sleeping in your car while drunk
After a long weekend, you may be tempted to have a nap in your car and whilst it’s not breaking the law to sleep in your car, it is illegal to be under the influence in your car. If caught sleeping whilst you’re over the alcohol limit, even with the engine switched off, you could be prosecuted for being “drunk in charge of a motor vehicle.”
Under the Road Traffic Act 1988, a motorist can be found guilty if they are “in charge of a motor vehicle on a road or other public place, after consuming so much alcohol that the proportion of it in his breath, blood or urine exceeds the prescribed limit”.
If you are caught in a vehicle while above the legal limit, you could face a maximum fine of £2,500. You could also end up being disqualified from driving and in more serious cases, face up to three months imprisonment.
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