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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.

client feedback

Licence Saved in a Speeding Matter

Charlotte recently represented a client at Oxford for a speeding matter. He was not eligible for a speed awareness course and therefore faced a discretionary disqualification.

Charlotte presented to the court reasons he should be allowed to continue driving and the court imposed penalty points instead.

This was a great result, and after returning home our client emailed to say

“Charlotte & Peter . I am emailing to express my thanks for all your wisdom over the last few months.  Charlotte, On reflection of today all your help and advice was awesome and I would have never got the outcome I needed without you.”

Thank you for this fantastic feedback.

If you have been caught speeding, or need advice on any other motoring matter, please contact us on 01926 886007 or by clicking the link here.

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.

Is a Motoring Conviction A Criminal Conviction?

I was recently asked this question – do my motoring convictions count as criminal convictions?

The short answer is yes. If you are convicted of a motoring offence in Court you will have a criminal conviction. This applies to all motoring offences.

If you are given a fixed penalty notice (FPN) for a minor road traffic offence then that would NOT be recorded as a criminal conviction UNLESS you are given an FPN for a road traffic offence in Schedule 2 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988, and your licence is endorsed. You will then be treated as having been convicted by a Court and also be subject to a rehabilitation period

DO I HAVE TO DECLARE A MOTORING CONVICTION

Our clients often worry about current or future employment, and whether a motoring conviction would be revealed during a criminal record check. This depends on the type of offence with which you are convicted – recordable or non recordable.

Recordable

A recordable offence is one where the police are required to keep a record on the police national computer system (PNC). These offences are revealed by a criminal record check. A motoring offence which would be included on such a check would be a conviction for drink driving.

Non-Recordable

A non recordable offence example is driving with no insurance. However, if convicted of a recordable offence alongside a non recordable, the non recordable offence will show on the police national computer.

Many convictions become spent after a period of time – meaning the full rehabilitation period has been reached and it no longer needs to be declared. A motoring offence is usually spent after 5 years (unless sentenced to a period in prison). If you receive a disqualification alongside the endorsement, the rehabilitation period will be still be 5 years or the length of disqualification if longer.

So in short, yes a motoring conviction can be a criminal conviction, it can be recorded on the police national computer and therefore can show up in a criminal record check.

If you have any questions relating to this or anything else relating to driving matters then please do not hesitate to contact us here or on 01926 886007.

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…

Motoring

Motoring rules 2019

Are you up to speed on the new motoring rules that could affect your driving in 2019? Driving laws are always changing and adapting and 2019 will be no different. Here is a list of some rules to be aware of in the coming year.

Passing Cyclists

More and more people are using bicycles as their mode of transport. For health reasons, environmental reasons or financial reasons, we are seeing more cyclists on the roads. Therefore new rules could be introduced to tackle safety concerns of both motor vehicle drivers and cyclists.


According to cyclinguk.org cyclist deaths have reduced over the years with 101 being killed in 2017 compared to 2010-2014. But serious injuries have increased. To promote cycling as a safe travel option the Government are addressing concerns by considering new rules.


The changes to the Highway Code could include something called the ‘Dutch Reach’ where, instead of drivers opening their car door with the right hand, they use their left. This is said to force a set of responses such as reaching, swiveling and looking back, forcing the driver to then check carefully for oncoming cyclists. Also, drivers in Spain, Germany and France must leave a bigger distance of 1.5m passing distance for cyclists.

The Highway Code does address cyclists but it is considered necessary to make it clearer and for more consideration to be given in the future.

Smart Motorways

The changes in rules regarding smart motorways have been underway for some time. The Government are considering fines of up to £100 for motorists driving in lanes which have been closed on a smart motorway.

MOT Rules

Changes to the MOT came into force in May 2018 and will affect any MOT’s going forward. You can read our blog here.

Rules on Diesel Car Tax

New rules came into force in April of this year , which we wrote about here.

Instead of being fixed, Vehicle Excise Duty is now calculated based on the car’s carbon dioxide emission. This is something to take into consideration when purchasing a new car in 2019.

Happy driving and a wonderful 2019 and if you need to contact us you can do so here