Written by
Julie Daniels
Motor insurance comparison expert
Last Updated
14 NOVEMBER 2023
5 min read
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How to avoid driving fines this Christmas

Everyone’s Christmas list looks different, but we can probably all agree that a fine isn’t the kind of surprise we want to find beneath the tree this festive season. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the potential offences to avoid at this time of year, whether you’re driving home for Christmas or road-tripping to pick out your tree. To help your Christmas stay full of joy, here are some of the driving rules and regulations to be aware of during the holiday season.

1. Never drink and drive

Highway Code: Rule 95

Penalty: 6 months imprisonment, unlimited fine, obligatory disqualification

It’s illegal to drive if you are unfit through alcohol consumption, as it seriously affects your judgement and driving abilities. If you’re found guilty of this, you could face six months in prison, an unlimited fine, and a driving ban — or three to 11 penalty points if not disqualified.

Since alcohol can take a long time to leave your body, you may even be unfit to drive the morning after your festive celebrations. You should never drive until you’re confident there’s no alcohol left in your system.

2. Make sure your party outfit doesn’t restrict movement while driving

Highway Code: Rule 97

Penalty: £1,000 fine, discretionary disqualification + 3 points

Whether you spend weeks planning the perfect party outfit or tend to pick something out last minute, there’s one very important thing to consider. Being sure that your clothing and footwear choices don’t interfere with your ability to drive safely.

Shoes like high heels or a fancy dress outfit that restricts your movement while driving could prevent you from maintaining proper control of the vehicle, which can land you with a £1,000 fine and three penalty points. To be safe, consider making the journey in flat shoes and comfortable clothes before changing into your party gear once you’ve arrived.

3. Avoid Christmas car makeovers

Penalty: £2,500 fine, discretionary disqualification + 3 points

It might be tempting to decorate your car for the festive season, but doing so could get you in a lot of trouble. Although things like Christmas decorations and lights look pretty, they can obstruct your view of the road and make it difficult to drive safely.

If you’re found to be using a vehicle in a dangerous condition like this, you may be charged with a £2,500 fine, discretionary disqualification and three penalty points. To avoid a penalty, it’s probably best to leave the lights and ornaments on your Christmas tree.

4. Make sure your view isn’t blocked when driving with a Christmas tree

Penalty: £1,000 fine, discretionary disqualification + 3 points

You’ve just picked the perfect Christmas tree, and now you need to get it back home somehow. But whatever you do, make sure your festive purchase doesn’t block your view of the road along the way. 

Driving with an inappropriately sized Christmas tree in or on your car, could lead to a £1,000 fine, discretionary disqualification and three penalty points, due to the affect it may have on your control of the vehicle or view of the road ahead.

If the tree you pick is too big to fit comfortably in your car, you may need to pay for a delivery service instead — or opt for a slightly smaller size.

5. Don’t get distracted by your favourite Christmas songs while driving

Highway Code: Rule 148

Penalty: Unlimited fine, discretionary disqualification + 3–9 points 

Whether it’s Mariah Carey or Michael Bublé, singing or dancing along to music while driving can distract you and cause you to lose concentration. In fact, our recent driving experiment revealed that dancing to music could lead to a 97% increase in reaction times behind the wheel.

Loud music can also mask other sounds from the road, and could be considered careless and inconsiderate driving. The penalty for this is an unlimited fine, discretionary disqualification and three to nine penalty points — so try to keep the festive singalongs to a minimum when you’re behind the wheel.

6. Be careful where you park when visiting friends or family

Highway Code: Rule 238

Penalty: £50 – £70 fine 

Finding a good parking spot can be difficult at the best of times, let alone during the busy festive period. But no matter how desperate you are for parking, there are some spots you should always avoid.

For example, you must not wait or park on single yellow lines during the times of operation, and you must never, at any time, stop or park on a double yellow lines. If you break these rules, you may receive a Penalty Charge Notice of either £50 or £70, depending on the impact of the offence.

Parking on a double yellow line will earn you a higher penalty of £70, while a minor offence — like an expired pay and display ticket — will result in a lower charge of £50. Either way, you should always double-check you’re parked correctly to avoid any penalties.

Advice for driving safely this Christmas

Following the essential rules we’ve outlined above will help you stay safe on the roads this Christmas and avoid any unwanted fines or penalties. On top of that, there are some other steps you can take to make sure you and your loved ones have a safe and enjoyable Christmas journey.

Author image Julie Daniels

What our expert says...

“Christmas is a busy period, so it’s especially important to be prepared when making journeys in your car. Take the time to plan your trip before you set off, including checking the traffic conditions, weather forecast, and road closures. If you’re driving a long distance, you should also break your journey up into shorter sections and allow plenty of time for rest stops.

Road conditions can change quickly at this time of year, due to adverse weather, so be sure to adjust your speed if you need to and leave extra space between you and the car in front.

Finally, make sure to keep up to date with the rules of the road and always follow these closely. Christmas is expensive enough without unexpected fines to pay, and penalty points can make matters worse by potentially increasing the cost of your car insurance.”

- Julie Daniels, Motor insurance comparison expert

Methodology and sources

The study reviewed the Highway Code to outline rules, fines and penalties.