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Basic Traffic Law, Legislation and Offences

The subject of insurance fronting was bought up recently and during the discussion Katie-xx suggested that a thread be created explaining the basics of traffic law, legislation and offences. Pat.W then contacted me and asked if I could post up some general information on the subject, so here goes.

The main piece of legislation used by police is set out in the Road Traffic Act 1988. As with all legislation it is long, written in legal terms and a heavy read but here's a link to it:

It sets out the main offences, licence conditions and driver responsibilities.

Most traffic offences can be dealt with my means of Fixed Penalty Notices, tickets. There are many and varied offences with carry the following penalties
Non endorsable 30
Non endorsable 60
Endorsable 60 + 3 points
Endorsable 200 + 6 points (insurance related offences only)
Kent Police produce this guide as to which offences carry points and those that dont
Endorsable- points
Non endorsable- no points
Don't worry about the offence codes as they are police use only.
As you can see there are many and varied offences which you can fall foul of.
Certain offences will get you sent straight to court and cannot be dealt with by means of a ticket such as dangerous driving or, driving without due care and attention. Matters such as causing death by dangerous driving, drink or drugged driving (more of this later) are immediate arrest.

The most common reason for receiving fixed penalty notices are:

Non endorsable: seatbelts, fog lamps, defective lamps, expired MOT, expired Road Tax, turning right/left where prohibited, number plate offences.

Endorsable: speeding, no insurance, provisional licence holders driving unaccompanied or without L plates (or both), defective tyres, dangerous loads (which can include carrying more passengers in your car than you have seats), red traffic lights and stopping on the controlled area of a crossing.

Drivers often asked why they have been stopped. You do not have to do anything wrong to be stopped by police. Sections 163/164 of the Road Traffic Act gives a police officer in uniform the power to stop a car and request the driver to produce his licence. You don't have to be speeding, on the phone, you can be stopped to ensure that you have a licence.

On the face of it insurance seems to be a simple matter but causes all sorts of problems. It is also what is known as an absolute offence, which means you have it or don't.
Fronting was mentioned in a earlier post and is basically as follows.
A high risk driver buys, registers and insures a car in the name of someone who is a much lower risk. They then put themselves on the insurance as a named driver but in fact are the main user of the car. This reduces the cost of the insurance.
A news story on the BBC website explains it brilliantly There is no problem being a named driver on someone elses policy as long as the named driver is the main user.

If it is proved that you are fronting you are committing offences under Section 2 of the Fraud Act 2006. This is where it gets serious, as this is a Criminal Offence, you get a record for fraud. This can impact upon future employment, credit and mortgage applications.
It is not as difficult to prove as you may think. We stop a Nova that has been modified driven by a 17 year old, Mr J Bloggs. The DVLA have it registered to Mrs Maureen Bloggs and its insured with her as the policy holder with J Bolggs as a named driver. The first question we ask any driver is, "Is this your car". "Yes" J Bloggs says, "well actually it's my mums car, but I'm a named driver" As traffic cops we video everything we do, (you've all seen Police Camera Action). You end up in court, the magistrate can see the car and hear the conversation. .

There are other insurance problems which crop up. Drivers don't always declare points to their insurers. A quick phone call at the side of the road to the Motor Insurers Bureau will let us know exactly what you declared to the insurance company at inception of the policy, if you didn't declare your points to save a few quid on your policy its an offence under Section 3 Of the Fraud Act 2006, problems as above. Remeber on line applications have an audit trail and when you phone up you always get a message stating that the call is being monitored and recorded.

People don't always read the small print of policies. Most drivers with comprehensive insurance assume that they are insured 3rd party for other cars. This isn't always the case any more, different policies have different terms and conditions. Tigz is the insurance guru of this forum and I'm sure he can expand on the point. If you are covered third party it is usually for cars that don't belong to you. We often stop people who have one car insured then buy and register another and think that they can drive it on the first policy.

Direct debits can cause problems too. If you default on a payment you can find yourself uninsured, this again is in your small print, we come across it more and more in these difficult financial times.

Finally with insurance be careful who you lend you car to. If you lend it to someone who is uninsured, and they get stopped you have committed the offence of permitting no insurance, and you can receive points and a fine.

Any uninsured cars can be seized and impounded.

Drink/Drug driving.
The legal drink drive limit is 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of breath. This means nothing to most people and you cannot equate it to one pint of beer or two glasses of wine, you just can't.
You can be breathalysed having committed any motoring offence, following an collision or if alcohol is suspected and you cannot refuse to take the test.
If you are over the limit its a minimum of a years ban.

If you are stopped and it is suspected that you are impaired by drugs you can be tested at the roadside, a test similar to you see carried out by US Police. Fail this and you are arrested and taken to the police station. Blood is taken by a doctor and is analysed for drugs. Any drugs in your system that could have impaired you will see you losing your licence. There is no minimum level as with alcohol, any drugs in your system can get you banned. This piece of legislation (Section 4 of the Road Traffic Act 1988) does not differentiate between legal, illegal or prescription drugs. Too much night nurse can make you drowsy, if you should drive and it impairs you, you can lose your licence.

New Drivers.
The Road Traffic (New Drivers) Act 1995 essentailly puts new drivers on a two year probation period. If in this period you collect 6 points you will lose you licence. You will have to start again, obtain a provisional licence and retake your test. After this period you will not lose you licence until you reach 12 points, it's all explained here

Damage only accidents do not need to be reported to police. You must exchange your details with the other party involved at the time, within 24 hours or if you can't trace the other party then report it to the police.
If anyone is injured then the incident must be reported to the police who will ensure everyone is legally on the road, and investiagte the cause and prosecute as necessary.

Madnoel posted up a very helpful link on an earlier post which answers many more points than I've brought up here, all credit for this link goes to noel

Other useful links which carry help and advice :
Highway code:

If you check your tyres and lights, wear your seatbelt, don't speed or use your phone the police are unlikely to be interested in you. These days with the onboard computer systems we have we can check the insurance status of the car, the type of licence held by the driver(if they are the registered keeper of the car) and the MOT date, without even stopping you.

A very long post, but hopefully of some use to some of you.


People who think they know what they're doing are especially annoying to those of us who do.
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1999 Scenic RXE, now gone as has the Alhambra that replaced it !

Last edited by Emily's dad; 9th February 2010 at 11:43 AM. Reason: spelling
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