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Drinking and Driving:

The legal limit of blood alcohol content in England is 0.08%, which is similar to the legal limit in the United States. Punishments for drinking and driving are heavy in England: the maximum sentence is six months` imprisonment, a fine of up to £5,000 and a minimum twelve months` disqualification from driving. Tourists will not be allowed to drive in England after the first offense. The rule for drinking and driving is simple: don`t do it. Take a taxi or some other form of transportation if you want to drink at pubs or nightclubs.

Seat Belts:

Seat belts are mandatory for drivers as well as for front and back seat passengers.

Cell Phones:

Cell phones are only allowed to be used by drivers in England if the call can be conducted hands-free (like through Bluetooth and car speakers). You will be given a citation and be made to pay a fine of £200 if you are caught using your cell phone without these hands-free devices.

Navigation Aids

Navigation aids such as GPS are allowed while driving in England, but the phone must be mounted to the windshield or dashboard, and you must not press any navigation buttons on the GPS or phone while driving. A fine of £200 can and will be given to violators.

Speed Trap Detectors:

In England, both fixed and mobile radar and laser speed camera detection devices are legal. Scramblers and jammers are illegal.

Driving Age:

The driving age in England is set at 17; learner`s permits are issued beginning at 15 years, 9 months. Drivers coming from the United States must be over the age of 17. Many car rental companies will not rent to people under 18, and may charge premiums to drivers under the age of 25.

Using Indicators:

Indicators must be used when overtaking and any other time it is applicable. English drivers are also known to use hand gestures in traffic to signal turns, to merge onto roads and roundabouts, and to allow drivers into their lanes. You will find that you will use both indicators and hand signals while driving in England. If a driver is nice enough to let you into a roundabout or lane, wave back at them, like you would in the United States.


According to the UK Highway Code, you should remain in the center or outer lanes if you are overtaking a number of slower moving vehicles, instead of changing lanes multiple times. Once you have finished overtaking, return to the left lane. Slower vehicles should remain in the left lane, unless overtaking. Slower vehicles should not be in the right lane at all. Do not drive on the hard shoulder; that is for vehicles to park their cars when experiencing distress or after an accident.


Also according to the UK Highway Code, you should use your indicators and hand signals to let other drivers know your intentions. Remain aware of the speed of the traffic around you and keep at the same speed limit when entering and exiting the roundabout. Always give priority to traffic coming from the right-hand side, unless signs tell you otherwise. Look at the road markings and make sure you have the right of way before entering the roundabout; if you don`t have that right of way, wait for other vehicles or pedestrians to pass. When taking the first exit on the roundabout, turn your left signal on and approach the left lane. Keep left and signal left to exit. If you are exiting on the right, keep to the right until you are ready to exit and then use your left signal after you pass the exit before the one you want to take. For intermediate exits, choose the lane that is more appropriate and stay in that lane until you pass the last exit before the one you want to take and signal left.


Headlights must be used in the time period that corresponds to 30 minutes after sunset and 30 minutes before sunrise. Side lights and rear registration lights must be lit during nighttime hours as well. Lights can be dipped at night in urban areas and in daytime weather that is cloudy or foggy. Headlights must be used during times of reduced daytime visibility, but they must be turned off when the visibility improves.

Losing Your License:

U.S. driver`s licenses are valid for 12 months in the United Kingdom; if you want to drive longer than that, you need to apply for a UK license. If you lose your U.S. license, make sure you apply for an International Driving Permit before leaving home and bring it with you at all times. This may help you in such a stressful event.

Fines for Motoring Offenses in England:

Speeding typically results in a fine of £100, although speeding over 45% of the posted limit could cause your driving privileges to be revoked. Fines and penalties have become harsher over the years for using your phone while driving. As of March 2017, this includes using your phone while in traffic. Careless driving (swerving, not driving inside the lines) will set you back £100. More dangerous driving behavior will send you directly in front of a magistrate. Driving without insurance will incur a minimum fine of £300. Children not using correct car seats will result in the parents being fined £500.


Car seats must be used for children who have either not reached the age of 12 years or the height of 135 cm (53 inches). Rear-facing car seats must be used for children under the age of 15 months, after which time front-facing seats are required. Car seats may be installed in the front but rear-facing car seats may not be used in the front if the passenger side has an airbag equipped.


In the United Kingdom, you must stop after an accident if someone else besides yourself is injured, no matter if there is only one car or multiple cars involved. The same rule applies if vehicles (other than your own) or property are damaged, an animal outside the vehicle is injured or killed, or if street lamps or signs are damaged. You are required to make sure medical assistance is coming to the scene, if needed. The emergency number is 999. After that, you must stay long enough to exchange names, contact information and insurance and registration information. If you want to report the incident to the police, it must be done within 24 hours of the accident. If you can exchange insurance and nobody is injured, police do not necessarily need to be involved. Inform your insurance company of the accident; failure to promptly do so can result in your claim being dismissed, even if the accident was not your fault. Do not admit liability for the accident as this can hurt your standing with the insurance company should you file a claim afterward. If the other person involved in the accident does not have insurance, a claim can be filed with the governmental Motor Insurers` Bureau.