Seven ways drivers could be fined up to £10,000 this Christmas – how to avoid a Xmas nightmare

MOTORISTS could be hit with hefty fines worth up to £10,000 as they drive around the country to catch up with loved ones this Christmas.

Here is how to make sure you and your car are properly prepared for the festive period.

From Christmas shopping to office parties or just catching up with friends and family, there are plenty of reasons why you may get behind the wheel over the next few weeks.

But the festivities and winter weather bring extra risks when out on the road.

Here are the main driving fines that could crash your Christmas period.

Drink driving – £2,500 fine

Medical experts may be warning us to reduce social contact in the run up to Christmas due to the Omicron variant, but drivers should also be wary of how much they drink at a festive gathering or party.

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You could be fined, lose your licence or even sent to prison if caught drink driving plus there is the risk of causing an accident.

There are various alcohol limits when driving and everyone responds differently depending on factors such as their age and weight.

It may be best to avoid drinking if you are going to drive or taking a cab home especially as the maximum fine for being in charge of a vehicle while drunk is £2,500.

In more extreme cases, such as if you refuse a breathalyser test or cause an accident, you could lose your licence or be sent to court where there may be a jail sentence.

Charging for lifts – £2,500 fine

If you decide to be the designated driver on a night out over the festive period or are driving friends or family home for Christmas, be careful when it comes to the issue of petrol money.

Road users aren't allowed to make a profit from giving other passengers a lift unless they have a valid taxi or private hire licence.

You risk breaking the law and being fined up to £2,500 if you try to make a profit from giving people a lift in your car.

The Public Passenger Vehicle Act 1981 states that passenger contributions shouldnot exceed the running costs, including wear and depreciation, of the vehicle for the trip.

That typically means you can only charge for petrol and are not allowed to make a profit from providing lifts.

Illegal tyres – £2,500 fine

The tread depth of a car tyre needs to be a minimum of 1.6mm on each one – or 1mm for motorbikes, large vehicles and passenger-carrying vehicles.

Anything below that is deemed illegal and can be dangerous in cold, wet and icy conditions as there is more chance of skidding and causing an accident.

If you are found with illegal tyres, you could receive a £2,500 fine and three penalty points – for each one, which could mean a massive £10,000 bill in total if all four are not roadworthy and 12 points on your licence.

Decorating your car- £1,000 fine

It may feel festive to add tinsel, fairy lights or a Santa hat to your motor so you can feel merry on the motorway, but this may pose a risk to other drivers.

If your decorations fall off on the road and cause an accident, you could be hit with a careless driving fine of £100 and have three points added to your licence.

Additionally, the Road Traffic Act states that "no person shall drive a motor vehicle on a road if he is in such a position that he cannot … have a full view of the road and traffic ahead."

Driving with an obstructed view could land you with a £1,000 fine.

Dirty windscreen – £1,000 fine

Rain, snow and ice can all add dirt to you car windscreen, making it harder to drive.

Clear your windscreen using de-icer or air-com to demist it otherwise you could be fined £1,000 for driving with an obstructed view.

The same goes for snow on your roof.

Make sure you clear any excess snow before driving or it could fall onto your window and obstruct your view.

If a dirty or obstructed windscreen makes you lose control of your vehicle and causes an accident, you could face criminal prosecution or a £10,000 fine.

Dirty number plate – £1,000 fine

You may not worry about a bit of snow and sleet making your car dirty, but it is important to check that your number plate isn't blocked or obscured.

The plate has to be clear to register with Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras so make sure it is clean before you set off.

Otherwise, a fine of up to £1,000 may apply.

Wearing inappropriate footwear – £100 fine

Rule 97 of the Highway Code states that motorists must wear "footwear and clothing which does not prevent you using the controls in the correct manner."

You need to be able to control the pedals properly with your shoes so you may need to wait until you reach your destination to change into your party heels or winter boots if they are hard to drive in.

If caught, you could face an on-the-spot fine of £100 for careless driving and have three points added to your licence.

In more serious cases, or those that go to court, the charge can attract a maximum £5,000 fine, up to nine penalty points and even a driving ban.

We look at eight things drivers should do to protect their cars from the cold and snow.

Find out how British motorists planning on driving abroad need to be aware of dash cam laws across Europe which could land them in hot water.

Meanwhile, drivers could face fines of up to £2,500 and even a ban from the roads by falling for so-called speed camera loopholes.

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