8 Driving Laws You Didn’t Know You Could Break in a Heatwave

< Back to blog

With Brits looking to take advantage of the forecasted heatwave in the UK, sizzling staycations and trips to favoured camping hotspots look to have been given the green light.

But did you know you could be breaking the law? Drivers risk an unlimited fine, 11 penalty points, a ban or even 10 years in prison in the heatwave.

Here are eight driving offences that you probably haven’t heard of – but might land you a serious penalty in scorching weather. Plus, find expert tips on how to keep your car cool.

1. Not turning on the AC or opening a window

Max penalty: 2 years in prison, 3-11 points and an unlimited fine

Rule 237 of the Highway Code says you must keep your vehicle well-ventilated to avoid drowsiness. Driving while tired isn’t an offence, but the AA says it can drastically increase your chances of driving dangerously, which can result in a serious penalty.

Recently, we recorded the temperature inside a car reaching a sweltering 33°C, which is hotter than the average summer in Mexico!

2. Bringing your bike

Max penalty: £1,000 fine

Rear-mounted bike racks are a cheap and convenient option for bringing your bike on a trip. But these racks can cover your licence plates, which will land you a hefty fine and your car will fail its MOT. 

If you do drive with a rear-mounted bike rack, consider a lighting board to display your licence plate, reflectors and lights clearly.

3. Hay fever medication

Max penalty: 6 months in prison, 3-11 points and an unlimited fine

A 2018 study revealed that 60% of hay fever sufferers admit taking medication before they get behind the wheel. But hay fever meds can result in sleepiness and blurred vision, which would make you unfit to drive.

A new Highway Code rule from 2015 (rule 96) says that you must not drive under the influence of drugs or medicine.

4. Overloading the car

Max penalty: 3 points and a £2,500 fine

Thinking of packing your camping gear in the boot or towing your family caravan? Beware of overloading the car.

Rule 98 of the Highway Code says you should not overload your vehicle with a weight that’s greater than the manufacturer’s recommendation. You could land a penalty for using your vehicle in a dangerous condition.

5. Wearing sunglasses – or not wearing them

Max penalty: A ban, 3-9 points and an unlimited fine

Everyday sunglasses can be too dark for driving, according to the AA. Some sunglasses can also affect your sight, as the edge of the frame blocks your peripheral vision. If your sunglasses aren’t fit for driving, you could be penalised for careless and inconsiderate driving.

On the other hand, the Highway Code says you should pull over if you are ever ‘dazzled by bright sunlight’. If you aren’t wearing the correct sunglasses that safely prevent you from being dazzled, you could risk being hit with a fine for careless driving.

6. Freeing a dog from a hot car

Max penalty: 10 years in prison

We all know that you should not leave your pet in a hot car, under any circumstances. But what happens if you do see a dog suffering in the heatwave – are you allowed to break the window and free them?

If you can’t justify breaking into the car, it could be seen as criminal damage. The Crown Prosecution Service states that destroying or damaging someone else’s property could land you up to 10 years imprisonment.

If an animal is suffering in a hot car, dial 999 and the police will give you advice on what to do.

7. Driving on wet roads after an April shower

Max penalty: 2 years in prison, a ban, 3-11 points and an unlimited fine

According to the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA), asphalt roads can ‘bleed’ through to the surface in hot weather after rain, which reduces skidding resistance and makes the road more slippery.

Thanks to the unpredictable British weather, you could find yourself driving in a heatwave after a sudden downpour. Drivers should beware – if you cause an accident on a slippery road, you could be convicted for dangerous driving.

8. Contactless payment at the drive-thru

Max penalty: A ban, 3 points and a £1,000 fine

With drive-thrus being a popular option for travellers needing grub on the go, drivers are encouraged to use contactless payments. But if you use the likes of Google Pay and Apple Pay at the drive-thru window, you could be penalised for using your mobile phone while driving.

5 top tips to stay chilled while you’re on the road

Planning a trip in the heatwave? We asked the experts at Scrap Car Comparison for their five top tips while you’re on the road in a heatwave.

  1. Have your windows open for local driving and shorter journeys, and then switch to air con when using the motorway and for faster driving. The wind resistance created by open windows will use more petrol than running the air con.
  1. Keep cool packs in the car – they don’t necessarily need to be chilled. These can be applied to the forehead and wrists. 
  1. Stay hydrated, take regular breaks and avoid driving during the hottest parts of the day.
  1. Park your vehicle out of direct sunlight and in the shade where possible. If you can’t avoid the sunlight, use a windscreen sunshade across your dashboard to keep all of your touchpoints such as the steering wheel and gear stick nice and cool. You may also want to cover exposed metal such as seat belt buckles and child car seat harness fittings.
  1. Leaving your windows open ever so slightly allows cool air to move through your vehicle. We advise leaving no more than a couple of centimetres gap between the top of the window and the door frame. Make sure your car alarm is active while the car is parked!

For more motoring advice, news and entertainment, from cheap insurance tips to our classic car quiz, check out the rest of the Moneyshake blog.