Drivers could ‘fall foul of the law’ and risk ‘disqualification’ for giving friends a lift

UK mobile phone driving laws explained by the RAC

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Drivers who are found to be making a profit from dropping someone off could be penalised under a little-known rule. Making even the smallest profit could see motorists classed as private hire vehicles, which would require drivers to have the correct licence.

As well as being issued a fine, it is likely drivers would have their car insurance invalidated.

This would see costs rise as drivers would be forced to pick up some specialist cover.

Under current coronavirus guidelines, drivers should minimise travel and should not be mixing households.

However, as infection rates fall Britons could be just weeks away from returning to some kind of normality including driving trips with friends.

It is possible many road users would have forgotten the rule over the past year and could be caught out in a desperate attempt to head out on longer journeys.

James O’Malley, director of leasing at Select Car Leasing said drivers face being “unwittingly caught out” by the rule change.

He said: “When restrictions allow, car-sharing and giving lifts will start to return and can be a good idea to save money and cut down on emissions.

“But it’s always handy to point out to motorists some of the relatively unknown laws that mean they could be unwittingly caught out.

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“Something as simple as charging a mate for a ride could mean you fall foul of the law and is certainly worth knowing about.”

The illegal taxi offence hit the headlines in 2018 when Dorset Police raised awareness of some online groups.

A Facebook group had been set up in order for people to share unlicensed lifts around Bournemouth and Poole.

Legally, drivers can accept petrol money for the lifts but any extra income generated from the journey could land drivers in trouble.

Officers at Dorset Police have also urged young people to always consider their safety when getting into a vehicle with a stranger.

They urged road users to consider an “alternative journey home” to ensure their safety and protection.

They said: “When getting into a vehicle with an unlicensed and unvetted stranger, you have no knowledge of their background and risk your own personal safety.

“Please consider an alternative journey home, either by contacting a trusted friend or relative, catching a bus or using a licensed taxi.

“Before offering a lift in exchange for money you should speak to your insurance company as this could invalidate your insurance.

|[It] may result in your vehicle being seized by police, a fixed penalty notice or prosecution resulting in a fine, points on your licence or disqualification from driving.”

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