Obscure UK driving laws

There are a lot of driving laws, and we mean a lot. And we doubt that you could name all of them. Of course, you know the basics, the laws that you adhere to every day when you get in your car, but do you know some of the more obscure ones?

In this article, we look at some of the more obscure driving laws we have here in the UK.

Dirty Number Plates

Did you know it’s an offence to drive with dirty licence plates on a public road? Well, according to the 2001 The Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulations it is. We can sort of understand this, it makes it harder for speed cameras to detect your licence plate if it’s dirty. So, make sure your licence plates are clean!

Switch off your engine

A lot of modern cars switch themselves off when the car is stationary. It’s a way to save fuel and to cut down on pollution, but did you know that it’s actually the law? The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations of 1986 state;

‘the driver of a vehicle shall, when the vehicle is stationary, stop the action of any machinery attached to or forming part of the vehicle so far as may be necessary for the prevention of noise.’

The only exception is if you are stuck in traffic, you can keep your engine on then to save you stopping and starting. However, if you are waiting for someone, it is illegal to keep your engine on. Instead, you should turn it off and wait. This is probably more beneficial for you as well.

Putting your sat-nav in the wrong place

By law, you should not have your sat-nav in the 29cm band on your windscreen. This is directly above the steering column. If you do, then you can get fined and be considered a dangerous driver. While the law allows you to use a sat-nav, you have to make sure it’s out of your direct eyeline.

Dangerous driving

We all know that it is illegal to drive dangerously. However, under new laws, the police can fine you for;

Hogging the middle lane
Cutting someone up

So, not only is it a bit of a silly-move, it’s also illegal. You can also get fined for changing CD’s and applying make-up while driving.

Drinking in a motorhome

This is a weird, but serious law you should probably know about. The 1988 Road Traffic Act states that;

a person who, when in charge of a mechanically propelled vehicle which is on a road or other public place, is unfit to drive through drink or drugs is guilty of an offence

So this essentially means that if you have parked up for the night and want to have a beer, you could be breaking the law.

However, if you can prove that you have absolutely no intention of driving, you aren’t breaking the law. In practice, this means taking the keys out of the ignition and putting them away somewhere.

Warning other drivers of speed traps

While you may be thinking you’re doing a good deed, warning other drivers of incoming speed traps, it’s actually an offence to do so. This is because you are obstructing the police and stopping them from doing their job. You can get fined and even get a prison sentence.

If the police catch you doing it, you could be charged under Section 51 of The Police Act 1964.


You might want to be careful with what you put on your car, as it could be illegal. This is one of the oldest laws on this list as it comes from Section 9 of the Metropolitan Streets Act of 1867 states that;

‘No picture, print, board, placard, or notice, except in such form and manner as may be approved of by the Commissioner of Police, shall, by way of advertisement, be carried or distributed… by any person riding in any vehicle.’

Although, the same law states that you can’t drive cattle along the road without the permission of the Commissioner of the Police himself. So, maybe this one is overlooked.


Another one that we probably don’t need today, though this is much more recent. It is illegal to enter ‘public conveyances’ including taxis and buses with a notifiable disease. This includes the likes of Cholera and the Plague, and small pox.

However, don’t let the plague stop you. You can notify the driver and if they allow you on said public conveyance then you aren’t breaking the law. You’ll annoy people if you give them Cholera though so we don’t recommend it.

So, there are some of the most obscure UK driving laws. While not all of them may not be enforced, it’s a good bit of trivia to tell your friends.

Obscure driving laws around the world

We know that the title of this article is obscure UK driving laws but there are some obscure driving laws from around the world that are simply too good to miss out.

China – Don’t Stop for Pedestrians

Be grateful our laws here are much more forgiving than the ones in China. It’s actually illegal to stop for pedestrians in Beijing.

Spain – Carry an Extra Pair of Glasses

If you need glasses to drive, then you need to keep a spare pair in your car at all times.

Alabama – Don’t Drive Blindfolded

What on earth happened in Alabama for them to create this law? Because we bet it’s one hell of a story. Anyway, don’t drive blindfolded in Alabama. In fact, don’t drive blindfolded anywhere.

Russia – Keep Your Car Clean

You can get a hefty fine if your car is dirty in Russia. There isn’t anything that defines what ‘dirty’ is, so best to keep it in top condition to avoid any fines.

Costa Rica – Have a Pint

You can actually have a beer while you’re driving in Costa Rica. Seriously. However, if your blood alcohol level is more than 0.75% then you will go straight to jail. No questions asked. So really, it’s best to not drink and drive.So there are our most obscure laws and some from around the globe. You might have known some of them, and you might never need most of them but they are always good to know. Are there any obscure laws we’ve missed out? Comment below!

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