Can I be fined for driving on a private road?

WHILE it's not a criminal offence to drive on private roads, you might still be breaking the law.

Private roads are looked after by homeowners who live along them, but the law of the land still applies.

That means you can be fined for trespassing.

This is a civil offence, so you can't be arrested or go to jail.

The owner of the road would have to sue.

But you can face damages and legal costs if a court rules in the road owners' favour.

It's highly unlikely that driving on a private road once would land you in any trouble.

Driving a big, noisy vehicle or using the private road repeatedly would be more likely to lead to fine.

How much could I have to pay out?

Fines and court damages for trespassing vary widely, depending on the offence.

Travellers are now being fined up to £2,500 for camping on private land after new laws were introduced over the summer.

But first time offenders face smaller charges of £300.

The pricier part of any proceedings is likely to be legal costs, however.

One couple spent £200,000 suing their neighbours for parking in a shared driveway.

Somerset bricklayer Grant Shortland called the cops more than 200 times in the bizarre four-year legal battle.

But he ultimately won the case, with the rival Hills family paying out £98k in their own costs – and the Shortlands' £100k on top.

These are unusual sums, but they show just how uncivil – and costly – civil lawsuits can become.

Can I get permission to drive on a private road?

Still, the owners of a private road can give drivers permission to use it if they want to.

Local homeowners must agree a Road Maintenance Agreement to look after the private road between them.

Taxpayers don't pay a penny towards its upkeep – and even drink driving laws don't apply as normal.

But if you don't live along it, you can still get in trouble.

So just to be safe, private roads are better left to their owners.

What else should I look out for on the road?

Under new laws drivers face £200 fines or six points on their licence for using their phone behind the wheel.

Ministers are bringing in changes to make it illegal for motorists to even touch their phones – except in an emergency.

We've also reported on how much you can expect to shell out if you're caught drunk driving over the festive season.


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