RAC Cars News


Brush Up On Motoring Law

By raccars Published

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You are, no doubt, well aware by now that it's illegal to break speed limits, drink and drive, park on double yellow lines and use a mobile phone while driving. However, new laws are regularly introduced which could lead unwitting motorists into trouble. Are you aware of the following?

Drug driving

You probably shouldn't be taking drugs at all, let alone driving while you're doing so. However, a specific offence for driving under the influence of drugs has recently been introduced, along with 'drugalyser' machines, which allow police to test for marijuana and cocaine at the roadside. A number of other drugs, both legal and illegal, are included under the new law and can be detected via a blood test.

New HGV speed limit

Since April, HGVs benefit from higher speed limits - 60mph on dual carriageways and 50mph on single lane roads.

Safer lorries

A new scheme to protect cyclists on London roads will be introduced on 1st September. It requires construction vehicles and lorries over 2.5 tonnes to use some essential safety equipment, such as extra mirrors, for increased visibility of cyclists and pedestrians, and side guards to avoid dragging cyclists under the wheels. Non-compliant lorries will be subject to fines.

Smoking in cars carrying children

From October, it will be illegal to smoke in a vehicle with passengers under the age of 18, in a new law designed to protect children against the effects of second-hand smoke.

Make a Plea

This new service allows motorists to challenge penalty notices online, instead of taking a dispute to court and taking up lots of magistrate time. Initially, only minor motoring offences are included in the service, but 'Make a Plea' could potentially be extended to all minor offences.

Paper driving licence

The paper counterpart to your driving licence is no longer valid. You still need your photocard but your driver details will be held electronically, including convictions and penalty points, and police, car hire firms and insurance companies will be able to access them online.

Electronic VED

The paper tax disc no longer exists, because again, all records are going digital. Police can check the VED status of a vehicle online but the main change is that road tax is no longer transferable upon sale. When you sell a vehicle, you need to cancel any remaining tax period you have paid for, and when you buy a vehicle, you will also have to tax it immediately. However, you can now pay monthly by direct debit. The whole thing can be done online, by telephone or at the Post Office.

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