Kwik Fit | Thursday 10th September 2015 9:00am
Over the past year we have seen a number of big changes to laws and regulations that effect motorists in the UK with several more changes in the pipeline for the coming months.
In case you missed them, here’s our list of the top 6 changes to the law that have taken place, and some that will be enforced very soon.
1. The end of the tax disc
Although the changes to the law surrounding car tax came into effect in last October, there are many who are still oblivious to the recent changes. Drivers are no longer required to display a tax disc on the windscreen of their vehicle and will no longer receive one from the DVLA. Instead you’ll be able to check on a car’s tax status online via the DVLA’s website.
The biggest change that motorists will see is when they are buying or selling a car. Motorist are no longer able to transfer tax to a new owner, they will have to buy new tax once the sale is complete. So watch out for sellers advertising that the car comes with a number of months tax included as you won’t be able to use this.
2. Drink & drug driving changes
A new law came into effect at the end of 2014 which made the legal drink-drive limit in Scotland lower than anywhere else in the UK. The legal alcohol limit has changed from 80mg in every 100ml of blood to 50mg.
Along with changes to the drink-driving regulations, police have now been given new powers to catch motorists driving under the influence of drugs. The changes, which came into effect in March 2015, state that it is an offence to drive with certain drugs in your system above a specified level. This even includes some common medicines. Now officers can test for drugs like cocaine and cannabis at the roadside with new drug swab testing equipment, dubbed the “drugalyser”, while they can request samples for other illegal substances at a police station.
Police are taking this new law very seriously and if you’re caught driving under the influence of drugs, you could face a hefty fine, a driving ban and even time in prison.
3. Bye bye to the paper driving licence
Hot on the heels of the end of the tax disc, the paper counterpart driving licence has also been scrapped as of 8 June 2015.
From now on when you need to renew or change any information on your driving licence you will only be sent a photocard and everything else will be recorded through the DVLA’s online database. All records of points and penalties will be held online by the DVLA, rather than recorded on your paper counterpart licence. You can now view your driving record on the DVLA database by going to: https://www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence.
4. Get in lane
It's nearly two years since the government introduced a new law to clamp down on the behaviour of hogging the middle lane of a motorway but it’s only now that anyone has been convicted in court of this offence. A van driver recently became the first motorist in the UK to be prosecuted for hogging the middle lane of a motorway. The penalty for middle lane hogging can be anywhere up to a £100 fine plus points.
5. Baby on board
In the past, laws on when to switch your child from a rear facing seat to a front facing one were based more on weight than age, but new European i-size regulations have seen a growth in new height-based car seats. Parents were previously advised to keep their child in a rear facing car seat until they reach 9 kg (approximately 9 months old). However the new i-size regulations which came into effect in the UK in April 2015 state that parents will need to keep their child in a rear facing seat until they are 15 months old. This means parents may have to replace their old child car seat with one that meets the new regulations as their child grows. It is recommended by many paediatricians and child health organisations that you keep your child in a rear facing car seat for as long as possible.
6. Smoking behind the wheel
Smoking in work vehicles has been illegal since 2007, but from 1st October 2015 it’ll be against the law to light up in a car carrying anyone under the age of 18. The new law will make it an offence for parents, carers or other adults in a car carrying anyone under the age of 18 to light up. The punishment is expected to carry a £60 fine or points on the motorist’s licence and could rise to as much as £10,000 for drivers who fail to stop passengers smoking in a vehicle carrying a child.
Making a Plea
In addition to the six changes mentioned here, the Government is rolling out a new ‘Make a Plea’ Service following a successful trial in Greater Manchester, which will allow drivers who are charged with a minor motoring offence to plead guilty or not guilty online. This means motorist can make their case online through a secure website 24-hours-a-day without having to attend court.Photo Credit: West Midlands Police
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