How well do you really know the law in the UK?

Are you a law-abiding citizen?

Most of us will immediately say yes to that question. And then we start to wonder . . . does a parking ticket count? If a bit of litter blows away is that the same as dropping? And what about that bill I knew was wrong but never mentioned it?

But laying aside all those daily examples, it’s quite possible that most of us break the law regularly without even realising. One of the main areas we do this is related to driving. But there are many other legal do’s and don’ts that most of us have never even heard of!

So in this article we look at UK laws we may never have heard of, and could be breaking all the time without even realising.

UK driving laws you may be breaking

Earlier this year, our article Are you up to speed with changes for motorists? covered some of the changes coming for UK drivers in 2022. 

But have these changes actually made any difference?

Let’s take a quick look at three of those changes:

  • A hierarchy of road users

A new hierarchy of road users was introduced in the UK at the end of January. The aim of this was to protect the most vulnerable road users and give them priority over other road users. And top of the hierarchy are pedestrians.

So, for example, at a junction pedestrians have priority over cars, cyclists and horse riders at junctions and crossings. If a pedestrian is waiting to cross, those other users must give way.

And cyclists have new rights. They should now ride at least half a metre from the verge or kerb, or further if it is safe’. Motorists must leave cyclists at least 1.5 metres space when they overtake them. 

Time will tell as to whether these changes are being effective. There is mixed feedback so far and certainly you will have your own experience as either a pedestrian, driver, cyclist or even all three. But it’s important to be aware of your legal obligations when out and about on the roads.

  • Using mobile phones in cars

It is now illegal for a car driver to use a handheld device for anything, including taking videos or photos, scrolling through playlists or playing games. This applies even when stopped in traffic or at a red light.

Mobile phones can still be used for hands-free calls, as sat-navs or as payment at toll booths if secured in a holder. If you need to do these things regularly, it is worth getting this sorted properly: if you need a bit of extra cash to do this, one of Munzee’s 24 month loans may be able to help.

If you break the new rules you could be fined £200 and receive up to six points on your licence. 

So if you’re driving and are tempted to glance at a text, scroll to a playlist, or take a photo out of your car window . . . . just don’t.

  • Local councils can now deal with minor traffic offences

Another little-known change that has happened this year is that local councils have been given more power to deal with minor traffic offences such as illegal turns, stopping in a box junction or driving in a no entry zone or the wrong way down a one-way street. 

They are able to fine drivers up to £70 if you are caught in act by a CCTV camera or ANPR. Similar schemes have been in operation in London and Cardiff for some time and – as well as clamping down on poor driving – they are expected to raise money for local and central government.

Other UK laws you may be breaking

But as well as the driving laws, there are many other little-known UK laws that you may be breaking without realising.

Here are five of the best!

  • It’s illegal to be drunk in a pub

If you enjoy a night out at the pub, beware! It is illegal to be drunk in a pub! Under the Metropolitan Act of 1839, a keeper of a public house must not permit drunkenness on-premises. 

And the more recent Licensing Act 2003 makes it illegal to serve alcoholic beverages to customers – or others buying for them – who are already drunk..

  • It’s against the law to jump the ticket queue at a tube station

This may come as a pleasant surprise to weary commuters. It is an offence under London Underground bylaws to jump the queue at a tube station ticket hall. This bylaw came into place when tickets were sold in person at a ticket office – but presumably also applies to machines and perhaps even the contactless payment points at barriers.

Unfortunately though, it doesn’t extend to actually getting onto a tube. So you can’t threaten that pushy passenger with the strong arm of the law!

  • It’s illegal to carry a plank of wood along a pavement

If you are planning to carry a plank of wood along a pavement any time soon . . . don’t! Under the Metropolitan Police Act 1839 it is illegal to do so. The only exception is if the wood is being loaded into or unloaded from a vehicle, or taken into a building.

This issue apparently dates back even further to mediaeval times when planks either being carried or falling off overloaded carts became a hazard to pedestrians.

  • Be careful how you handle salmon and cows

One law you most probably have never heard of is the Salmon Act of 1986. The law was created to clamp down on people selling fish illegally. But section 23 of the Act elaborates on the suspicious handling of salmon and makes provision to deal with that. Which does make sense in the context of the act . . . . just be careful if you are carrying salmon whilst out and about!

Care is also needed if you happen to be driving a herd of cattle through town. Under the Metropolitan Police Act 1839 (yes, that one again!) you can be prosecuted for any mischief, misbehaviour or negligence whilst doing this.

  • It’s an act of treason to put a British stamp on upside down

Finally, do be careful when posting cards and letters. The Treason Felony Act of 1848 viewed sticking a stamp upside down as an attempt to dispose of the monarch. The punishment was imprisonment, which may have included you being ‘transported beyond the seas for the term of your natural life’.

Fortunately this law does not seem to be enforced in the 21st century. But proceed with caution!.

We hope that this article explains the new motoring laws you now need to follow, and also a few other UK laws that you may never have realised before!Check back here soon for more lifestyle and financial tips from Munzee Loans.