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Driving During Lockdown

What are the Driving Rules during Lockdown?

The lockdown has had an obvious impact on the number of vehicles on the road. Motorways have been virtually empty, apart from lorries and delivery drivers. The Guardian, back in April, reported UK road travel had fallen to 1955 levels. Only essential travel has been permitted.

half empty motorway

But the rules were relaxed slightly last week when the Prime Minister addressed the nation, so what does that mean for drivers now?

We are still only permitted to drive our cars for essential travel – such as to work, the pharmacy, medical emergencies and supermarkets for basic necessities. But we have been told we can return to work if we absolutely cannot work from home.

We are also allowed to drive out for daily exercise. There is no limit on how far we can drive but the advice is to be sensible and avoid busy areas. But driving to a second home or to visit someone over night is still not permitted.

We have been advised to avoid public transport where possible, to maintain social distancing. Car sharing with someone outside of your home is not permitted though. All of this means we have started to see more cars on the road.

Many petrol stations remain open and have done throughout the lockdown, with most implementing social distancing. Many garages remain open too, offering emergency repair services where they can. But the AA have advised that anyone who breaks down may face longer recovery times. MOT testing has been extended by 6 months for cars whose MOTs expired on or after the 30th March 2020.

So, what does this mean for drivers? The message remains – stay at home and only drive for essential travel. Police officers do have the power to stop and ask where you are going, and they can issue fines if they do not believe the driver is following the rules.

John Onions are still operational during the Covid-19 pandemic. Our offices are closed but our solicitors are available for telephone consultations. So contact us here today if you have any questions or call us on 01926 886007.

 

coronavirus advice

Coronavirus Advice for Drivers

Since the Coronavirus lockdown the roads have been quieter. With only essential travel being allowed, we are seeing far fewer cars on the road. But that does not mean the rules of the road no longer apply. The police have said it is business as usual.

If you are due to attend court for a road traffic offence then it is likely you will face a delay at this current time, but all cases will eventually go ahead.
One of the changes brought in by the Government on the 30th March 2020 is an extension of 6 months for MOTs due after this date.

All car owners must still keep their vehicles in a road worthy condition. A driver could still face penalties such as points, a fine or even prison if the car was in an accident as a result of a fault which they had ignored.

In addition to the MOT suspension, all speed awareness courses have been suspended for 12 weeks. This means if a driver is caught speeding they may be more likely to face points and/or a fine.

John Onions are still operational during the Covid-19 outbreak. Our offices are closed but our solicitors are available for telephone consultations. So contact us today if you have any questions.

driving rules 2020

New Driving Laws for 2020

What does 2020 have in store for driving laws?

2019 saw new laws come into force in relation to MOTs and fines for people caught driving in a smart motorway lane marked X.

LOW EMISSION RULES

Last year, in London, new low emission rules came into force, replacing the previous scheme. Other cities across the UK will be following suit by introducing their own low emission schemes. Birmingham are introducing a new scheme in July and Bristol, Leeds and Edinburgh, amongst others have indicated an interest in the initiative.

If a car does not meet the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) standards then the driver will have to pay a charge to drive in the area.

DRIVING PERMITS AND GREEN CARDS

With the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the guidance for British drivers is that their UK licences will not be valid in EU Countries in a no-deal situation.

Also, if we leave the EU with no deal then drivers will have to purchase an international permit in order to drive on the Continent.

Insurance regulations mean drivers will be required to carry a motor insurance green card when driving their own cars in the EU.

CAR TAX

Changes have already been made to car tax, but in 2020 owners of high emission vehicles will see their excise increase by up to £15 as part of ongoing policy to reduce emissions. Diesel cars will be hit hardest and those failing to meet new standards will continue to pay higher taxes.

PAVEMENT PARKING

Despite the fact that a pavement parking ban has been in place in London since 1974, there is a suggestion that new legislation could be introduced across England leading to new further restrictions and penalties. Pavement parking can prevent access for wheelchair users and other pedestrians, but there is strong opposition which means there is likely to be some delay in any legislation being passed.

NEW DRIVERS

We wrote about new driver rules back in September with an article about possible Graduated Licence Schemes. The ideas are still being tested to include:

  • Alcohol – lower limits or zero limits
  • Curfews
  • Engine sizes reduced for new drivers
  • P Plates made mandatory
  • Limits on passengers

There is opposition to the idea but the scheme was piloted in Northern Ireland in 2019 so it could be rolled out sometime in the near future in the UK.

MOTORWAY LESSONS

The law used to state that only drivers who had passed their test could drive on a motorway. However, although not compulsory, learner drivers can now have lessons on motorways, provided the instructor has duel controls.

OVERTAKING CYCLISTS

Some road safety campaigners say the Highway Code does not do enough to safeguard cyclists on the road. People may soon be encouraged to use the ‘Dutch Reach’ when opening car doors. It means that a driver would use their far hand to reach the handle when opening the door, thereby allowing them to look out and see if a cyclist is nearby, before opening the door.

Road safety campaigners want some clarity added to the Highway Code to ensure the safety of cyclists.

These are a few of the driving laws 2020 is set to see. If you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team on 01926 886007 or by clicking this link.

drink drive

Great result for a Drink Driving matter at Leamington Spa

Another great result for one of our clients at Leamington Spa Magistrates Court yesterday. Charlotte de Rosnay represented a man who had been caught driving whilst over the legal alcohol limit. This is a matter which is taken very seriously. The level of alcohol in his breath was very high and he faced a custodial sentence.

Charlotte managed to persuade the Court to consider a community penalty instead of an immediate custodial sentence, thereby giving him an opportunity to work on his alcohol issues and prevent him from offending again in the future. He had a lot of personal mitigation to put forward and a favourable probation report which assisted in the Court’s decision.

Drink driving is taken very seriously. If you’re charged with an offence of drink driving and plead guilty you will be disqualified from driving. The Court will then look at the level of alcohol in your system, be it breath, blood or urine and then decide on an appropriate sentence.

Take a look at the table below.

Drink Drive Sentencing Guidelines

If you are caught drink driving you should take legal advice. There are drink driving defences and special reasons which could prevent you from losing your licence so it is worth speaking to a solicitor to find out what you should do.

Contact us here if you need to discuss this matter with a solicitor.

A great result for Charlotte de Rosnay on a Driving Whilst Disqualified case

Charlotte’s client was charged with Driving Whilst Disqualified. She was pulled over by the police because her car flagged on the police system as not having a valid MOT or Insurance policy in place. The police checked her driving credentials and discovered she had been disqualified from driving. She was therefore arrested and charged with the offence.

When she went to Court she instructed Charlotte de Rosnay that she had no knowledge of the disqualification and no knowledge her insurance and MOT was therefore invalid.

On speaking with the Prosecutor it was clear that there was no evidence of the initial offence leading to the disqualification but with some probing Charlotte discovered it had taken place in another County. Her client instructed that she had not been to that County before and had not given her car to anyone who may have done.

She was therefore advised to make a Statutory Declaration to the Court, stating that fact. The case out of area was reopened and evidence disclosed. A not guilty plea was entered to the re-opened matter and a not guilty entered to the Driving Whilst Disqualified.

The new matter of Driving Whilst Disqualified was eventually withdrawn which left the out of area matter. The client received notification that the case too had been withdrawn. This was an excellent result and may not have been possible without a solicitor to take her through the complicated process.

Driving whilst disqualified is a serious offence and a prison sentence is a possibility. You can be accused even if you are not aware you had been disqualified. At John Onions we will consider your case in details and advise you of the best approach in achieving the best possible outcome for you. You can contact us on 01926 886007 or by clicking here.

new driver

Graduated Licence Scheme Considered by Government

A graduated licencing scheme, placing restrictions on new drivers is being considered by the Department of Transport, as reported by The Times earlier this year.

This isn’t a new idea, but has been avoided in order not to place undue restrictions on young people’s lives.

Under current schemes, new drivers in the UK are already on a two year probationary period after passing their test. Meaning it takes only 6 points, as opposed to 12, to warrant a driving ban.

The new rules could include a restriction on alcohol levels (a zero tolerance approach) for young drivers.

It could also mean a potential reduction in the number of hours a new driver could be on the road in a day. Examples include night time curfews or supervised driving in hours of darkness.

Additionally, there may be a restriction on carrying passengers as a new driver, particularly child passengers.

The graduated licence proposals are being looked at for new drivers, irrespective of age and the restrictions could last anywhere from six months to two years, according to The Times report.

REASONS FOR

Drivers between the ages of 17 and 24 are involved in a quarter of accidents on the road leading to death and serious injury, according to research. But these drivers make up only 7% of licence holders in the UK, suggesting that restrictions could alleviate some concerns and allow young drivers to gain the experience necessary.

CRITICISMS

But the idea is not without its critics.

As mentioned earlier, the idea of a graduated licence scheme has been floated for some time, but nothing has been implemented due to some concerns on the effect on new and young drivers.

Driving means freedom. Restricting driving hours severely limits the freedom of new drivers to work outside certain times. Additionally, daylight hours are so much shorter during the winter months that even normal working/educational hours could be difficult for a new driver under this regime.

Car sharing is a consideration amongst young drivers, especially in rural areas where public transport links are not good. A rule stopping them from carrying passengers would severely restrict this. And of course, young parents. Having a car is often necessary for parents with small children. A rule preventing the carrying of passengers would make it impossible for young drivers with children.

These matters will be considered by the Department of Transport as part of their proposal.

OTHER COUNTRIES

The scheme already runs successfully in other countries.

The US has it’s own graduated licence scheme, differing from State to State. In California young drivers are restricted from driving between 11pm and 5am. In New York unsupervised night time driving is allowed only if travelling to and from work. Of course, these rules can be hard to enforce.

It remains to be seen whether the idea will be adopted in this country, given the concerns highlighted above but, according to The Times report, the AA and RAC are supportive of the plans and the road safety minister, Michael Ellis is keen to explore how they can help new drivers to stay safe on the roads.

EU

Brexit – what you need to know about driving in Europe

Brexit – there is no doubt about it, it’s been a hugely complicated and divisive issue within the UK (and abroad). Despite this, no matter how you voted and what happens, the effect of Brexit will be wide. And if you travel in Europe there will be some new rules governing how you drive within the EU. One in particular will be the requirement for a Green Card for all cars travelling into Europe.


But there is a lot of uncertainty and it will depend on whether the UK leaves with a deal or no deal in place.


Possible new requirements

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal UK drivers may find they need an international Driving Permit (IDP), as well as other documentation to drive within the EU.

Currently British licences are valid within the EU, so motorists can use them. But when the UK leaves it may be the case that British licences will no longer be recognised as valid. British driving licences could therefore fall within the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic, meaning an IDP would need to be purchased, as is required when driving in certain countries outside of the EU.

When and what will happen?

There is no doubt about it, Brexit has been a hugely complicated and divisive issue. But no matter how you voted, the effect of Brexit will be wide. Whether there is a deal or no deal, if traveling into Europe, your car may require a Green Card.

Is there anything else I need to do if driving in Europe Post Brexit?

Unfortunately the position is not clear yet but the following are likely to be required, and can be found in more detail at the UK Gov website.

  • Number plates – it is recommended that you display a GB sticker on the rear of your vehicle if you drive within the UK, even if you have the identifier on your number plate.
  • If there no deal, you should carry your vehicle registration documents with you when driving.
  • Again, if there is no deal a motor insurance Green Card will provide evidence of correctly held motor insurance for the vehicle – you will need to contact your insurance provider for a Green Card

But I live in the EU!

Of course many people live outside of the UK within the EU. If you do, how could Brexit affect your driving? Well, if you’re a British National living within the EU who holds a UK licence then you should consider exchanging your UK licence for the local EU one in the country you reside. It was recommended to do this before the Brexit deadline because afterwards drivers may be required to pass a driving test in the EU country they live in!

What if I drive in the EU for work?

If you drive a goods vehicle then you will also need extra documentation when driving within the EU. Driving for work is a little more complicated – drivers will need documentation such as an IDP, CPC (Certificate of Professional Competence) already required, UK drivers licence and a tachograph chart or vehicle smart card. But there will also be further documentation required for good vehicles and trailers, which would include a motor insurance green card and GB Sticker on the rear of the vehicle, as with all drivers.

And of course, the goods being transported with be subject to further documentation, not to be covered in this article.

You can read in more detail at the Gov website here. It is worth checking out if you drive commercially within the EU.

To conclude, it is clear that changes will be made affecting drivers driving within the EU. But it is not yet clear how far these changes will go and will certainly depend on the way in which the UK leaves the EU.
Watch this space…

drones

New laws for flying drones

Drones – you’ve no doubt heard of them and you may have even flown one. Evolving drone technology makes it a big business with better, faster, clever models being released into the market all the time.

 

So what’s the problem?

As the technology becomes more available there has been an increase year on year in the report of incidents involving drones  It is hoped the new laws will reduce the number of drone accidents.

So what are the laws?
  • Height Limits

There will be a restriction on all drones from flying about 400 feet and within a kilometer of airport boundaries. Flouting these rules could result in a charge of “recklessly or negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft or any person in an aircraft” and could face an unlimited fine and or a prison sentence.

  • Weight limits

From November 30th next year anyone who owns a drone weighing in excess of 250g will have to register it with the Civil Aviation    Authority. The owner will also be required to take an online safety test.

  • Requirement to keep your drone in your line of sight at all times and to avoid designated no fly zone

This really great fact sheet by dronesafe.uk sets out the current laws and changes drone owners will face.

As mentioned, breaking these rules can result in criminal convictions and punishments of unlimited fines and prison sentences! It is therefore best to be well informed of the rules.

According to dronesafe.uk the use of drones is increasing rapidly in the UK so no doubt more laws will be rolled out in the coming years to address the safety issues that come with flying drones.

If you wish to discuss this or any other matter involving criminal law or motoring law please contact us here.

Safe driving (flying) folks!

Motoring

Motoring News

We recently wrote a blog about new driving laws that have come into force or are due to in 2018.

Learner drivers

From June 2018 learner drivers have been able to drive on the motorway. Instructors are encouraged to give their pupils some motorway training to prepare them. Have you encountered any yet?

New MOT Rules

New rules for MOTs came into force in May. You can read more about this in a blog post here.

Did you know that MOTs have been scrapped for classic cars? The Government announced that vehicles over 40 years old would be exempt from an MOT test as from May 2018. You can read the details here

Car diesel tax

We also wrote about the changes to car diesel tax. From April, new changes came into force focusing on reducing air pollution targeted solely at diesel cars. Again, you can read more about this in our previous blog here.

Driving in closed motorway lanes

From Spring 2018 new laws have been put in place to prevent motorists from driving in lanes that are closed. This is already an offence but from Spring the new law will bring into force fixed penalties for people seen driving in closed lanes. This link gives further information on safe motorway driving

Children’s car seats

Presently, the law states that all children must use a car seat until the age of 12 or 135centimetres tall. After that, they must wear a seatbelt like all other passengers.

Children under 15 months are now required by law to travel in backward facing car seats. Many studies have shown that this is the safest position for a young child to be in in the event of a crash.

The rules on backless booster seats also changed. Now, backless booster seats are only suitable for children taller than 125cm or weighing more than 22kg.

 

Contact us

Have any of these new laws caught you out? Were you aware of them? Contact us for free impartial advice about these or any motoring offence you may be facing. You can call us on 01926 886 007 or contact us via the website here.

Motoring

New Motoring Laws for 2018

New Motoring Laws for 2018

We recently posted about learner drivers being allowed to drive on motorways during their lessons. But what other motoring rules and regulations are coming into force in 2018?

 

New Mot Rules

In a recent article we explained the new rules governing the MOT test coming into force this May. You can read more here. The new test will include new fault categories, as well as different updated tests to your car. Diesel cars have come under the spotlight under the new rules with stringent emission testing, which has led some to question the potential future of diesel cars.

 

Car Diesel Tax

In April this year new car tax changes came into force, focusing on reducing air pollution targeted solely at diesel cars. Essentially, from April if cars do not meet the emission standards  set by the rules they face inflated tax. It isn’t going to affect cars currently on the road but will be applied to those buying new cars. You can read in detail the potential financial costs to drivers here

 

Driverless cars

Technology is moving quickly in relation to driverless cars. These changes have to be met with new rules and regulations for drivers. Recently a man was banned from driving after being found driving his Tesla along the M1.

New regulations have been put into place to target drivers who may be misusing technology the technology of modern cars.

The Highway Code will also tighten in light of the changes which will state it is still not safe to remove both hands from the steering wheel when driving with systems such as lane control engaged.

The new regulations will target drivers who let go of their steering wheel while the car is in motion and these drivers could face penalties of up to £1,000 or prison.

Contact us

If you have any questions about this or any other driving matters, you can contact us on 01926 886007 or by filling out our contact form here