Confused about whether you can send a text whilst your car is stationary, or think you have a choice about whether to provide a blood or breath specimen to police if you’re caught drink driving? Our blog below busts some common myths surrounding motoring offences:
Myth: “I took drugs but I waited until the effects had worn off before I drove. I didn’t commit an offence.”
Fact: Drug driving is a strict liability offence. This means that it does not need to be proven that your driving ability was impaired. Provided you were over the specified limit, you will be guilty of the offence unless a specific defence applies. The limits are set purposefully low and certain substances can stay in your system for a number of days therefore it is important to be aware of this when considering your fitness to drive.
Myth: “I received my Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) after 14 days from the date of my offence. I don’t need to respond!”
Fact: It a common misconception that you need only reply to a NIP if it arrives to you within 14 days of the offence alleged against you. A Notice of Intended Prosecution can be communicated to you verbally at the scene of the alleged offence. Where intention has not been communicated to you in this way then it must be served on the registered keeper of the vehicle within the following 14 days. A NIP that is sent to you within the 14 days but does not arrive until a later date has complied with this rule.
In some situations where the 14 day rule has not been complied with you will still be prosecuted e.g. where the police could not reasonably have discovered the information necessary to send the NIP to you or if you have moved house and not updated your vehicle log book (V5 certificate). Notices can also be served on individuals with some link to a vehicle – even if the vehicle or the offence does not relate to you, you are still legally required to respond with whatever information you have.
Failing to update the V5C can result in being convicted of an offence for failing to provide driver details which carries a maximum fine of £1,000 and 6 penalty points on your licence and so it is important that your vehicle is always registered to the correct address.
Myth: “I am fully insured on my car so I can legally drive any other car!”
Fact: Comprehensive insurance policies DO NOT include cover for driving other cars (DOC). Although this used to be the case, often nowadays drivers will have the specifically request this benefit and pay an additional cost!
Even if you do have DOC your insurers will likely have stipulated rules governing its use! DOC is generally only permitted to be used in emergencies and does not extend to drivers aged under 25. Insurers may also refuse to include DOC where your occupation increases the likelihood of you driving other cars.
Driving without insurance can cause you to be hit with 6 to 8 penalty points which will remain on your licence for 4 years and will likely increase your insurance premium. Keep Me On The Road says “If in doubt… check your policy out!”
Myth: “If the police stop me on suspicion of drink-driving I can choose whether to give a breath or blood specimen.”
Fact: It used to be the case that a motorist whose breath registered between 36 and 50 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath were given the “statutory option” – the ability to replace their breath sample with a blood or urine sample. However, this Statutory Option was abolished in April 2015.
A motorist who refuses to participate in a roadside breathalyser test as requested by a uniformed police officer could face a fine of up to £1,000 and a driving disqualification or four penalty points added to their licence. If you fail to provide a specimen for analysis at the Police Station then you will have to serve a disqualification beginning at 12 months. Failing to provide a specimen is an offence in its own right and so you can and will be convicted of this offence if you did not provide a sample, even if you were not drink driving.
Myth: “I sent a text whilst waiting at a red light. My car was stationary so I can’t have committed a driving offence.”
Fact: It is illegal to hold a mobile phone while driving and this includes where you are stopped at traffic lights, queuing in traffic or supervising a learner driver. Any “interaction” with a mobile phone whilst you are “in control of the vehicle” is illegal and a charge of using your phone may result in 6 penalty points and a £200 fine. If you are a new driver then this can even result in you losing your licence. You could also be taken to court where a fine of up to £1,000 can be issued, or up to £2,500 if you were driving a bus or lorry at the time of offence.
If you have committed a motoring offence and need advice contact our expert team on 0800 046 3066