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How you could be breaking the law every time you drive

By Alexandra Lawrence, 29 May 2019 Car Advice

How you could be breaking the law every time you drive

The driving penalties you might not have heard of.

You might not realise it, but there are a whole heap of road rules out there designed not to trick you (believe it or not), but to keep you and other road users safe.

But how can we possibly keep up with all of them?

Well, here are some you might have not have known about... and that’s a good place to start.

Fog lights

They’re called fog lights for a reason. Legally, you can drive around with your fog lights on – but, “only if driving in fog, mist or other atmospheric condition that restricts visibility”.

Put simply, if the sun’s a-beamin’, the fog lights should be a -dreamin' (or off).

It’s unlikely you’ll get pulled over just for driving with your foggies on a sunny day, but if you do, fines of around $112 apply in NSW and $161 in Victoria.

IN DETAIL: When can I use fog lamps and driving lights?

“Move to the left, w****r!”

There are two types of people in the world – the ones that get cranky when stuck behind a slow driver in the right lane, and those who are driving slow in the right lane.

And although the rules aren’t as clear-cut as you may think, there are ways you could be fined for driving in the right lane.

MORE Other ways you could be breaking the law 

The law in most states says when the speed limit is above 80km/h on a multi-lane road you must not drive in the right lane unless overtaking, turning right etc. You also need to obey this rule on multi-lane roads where the speed limit is under 80km/h, but only when there’s a KEEP LEFT UNLESS OVERTAKING sign displayed.

So there you have it. Sometimes it’s okay to drive in the right lane; just don’t stay there longer than you need to.   

Yellow means stop

Apparently, most people think the yellow light means 'stick ya boot in before it turns red', but what it actually means is stop as long as it’s safe to do so.

Across Australia, you can be fined for driving through an amber light if it appears you could’ve come to a safe stop.

In Victoria, running a yellow could cost you $403 and three demerit points, in NSW its $448 and three points and Queensland's fine are worth $391 and three points.

Maybe you’ll think twice before you give it a hit to get through that yellow.

Splashing pedestrians

A little water never hurt anyone, right? What about mud? Well, that could leave a dent in your bank account if you get caught splashing bus passengers with mud in NSW.

So theoretically, you could probably get away with splashing mud on regular, non-bus pedestrians – although you should probably take a long, hard look at yourself if you get pleasure from that.

The mud splashing penalty is $187 and three demerit points if you get caught in NSW.  

MORE Is it illegal to drive too slow? 

Eating behind the wheel

Most of us do it, and, until recently, it wasn’t such a big deal. But police are now cracking down on eating behind the wheel as it can be as distracting as texting while driving.

Technically, munching on bickies behind the wheel isn’t illegal, but you can be booked for “driving without proper control of the vehicle” if you appear to be driving in an unsafe manner, or without both hands on the wheel. In NSW it can result in a $448 fine ($561 for school zone offences).

In Queensland, you could even be charged with negligent driving, with fines up to a huge $4000, while Victorians need to pay around $387 if caught.

And if you’re in South Australia, you’re up for around $184.

Obscuring your number plate

They’re pretty serious about this one in most states. Whether you’ve just come from the dusty Simpson Desert, or you just haven’t washed your car in the last eight months, having a number plate that’s too dirty to see (or obscured by an L or P plate) is illegal.

In NSW, be prepared to face fines of up to $415 (and three demerits), and in Queensland, you’ll have to cough up $341.

MORE On road rules

Window gaps and door locks

An interesting (or insanely annoying) thing that can get you in trouble in Queensland and Victoria is leaving your car unlocked when you’re more than three metres away from your car, or leave your windows open more than 5cm.

It's a bid to keep car thefts down. Fines in Queensland are only around $40 while Victoria is a little heftier at $117.

Have you ever been pinged for any of these offences? Let us know in the comments below!