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ROAD TRAFFIC ACT 1988

UK Public General Acts

Version 30/04/2010

1988 CHAPTER 52

Default Geographical Extent: E+W+S+N.I.


  • Part I. Principal Road Safety Provisions
    • Driving offences (E+W+S)
    • Motor vehicles: drink and drugs
    • Motor racing and motoring events on public ways (E+W+S)
    • Protective measures: seat belts, helmets, etc. (E+W+S)
    • Stopping on verges, etc., or in dangerous positions, etc. (E+W+S)
    • Other restrictions in interests of safety (E+W+S)
    • Cycling offences and cycle racing (E+W+S)
    • Use of motor vehicles away from roads (E+W+S)
    • Directions to traffic and to pedestrians and traffic signs (E+W+S)
    • Promotion of road safety (E+W+S)
  • Part II. Construction and Use of Vehicles and Equipment
    • Using vehicle in dangerous condition (E+W+S)
    • General regulation of construction, use etc. (E+W+S)
    • Tests of vehicles other than goods vehicles to which section 49 applies (E+W+S)
    • Tests of certain classes of goods vehicles (E+W+S)
    • Approval of design, construction, equipment and marking of vehicles (E+W+S)
    • Conditions for grant of excise licence (E+W+S)
    • Vehicle examiners (E+W+S)
    • Testing vehicles on roads (E+W+S)
    • Inspection of public passenger vehicles and goods vehicles (E+W+S)
    • Prohibition of unfit vehicles] (E+W+S)
    • Miscellaneous provisions about vehicles and vehicle parts
    • Pedal cycles and horse-drawn vehicles (E+W+S)
    • Miscellaneous (E+W+S)
  • Part III. Licensing of drivers of vehicles
    • Requirement to hold licence (E+W+S)
    • Tests (E+W+S)
    • Physical fitness (E+W+S)
    • Granting of licences, their form and duration (E+W+S)
    • Driver training] (E+W+S)
    • Community licence holders] (E+W+S)
    • Appeals (E+W+S)
    • Disqualification (otherwise than on conviction) (E+W+S)
    • Disqualification if disqualified in Northern Ireland etc. (E+W+S)
    • Effects of disqualification] (E+W+S)
    • Miscellaneous (E+W+S)
  • Part IV (E+W+S). Licensing of drivers of large goods vehicles and passenger-carrying vehicles.]
    • Licensing of drivers of large goods vehicles and passenger-carrying vehicles. (E+W+S)
  • Part V (E+W+S). Driving Instruction
    • Instructors to be registered or licensed (E+W+S)
    • Registration (E+W+S)
    • Licences (E+W+S)
    • Appeals (E+W+S)
    • [F619 Compensation] (E+W+S) (P)
    • Examinations and tests (E+W+S)
    • Disabled persons: emergency control certificates, etc] (E+W+S)
    • General and supplemental (E+W+S)
  • Part VI (E+W+S). Third-Party Liabilities
    • Compulsory insurance or security against third-party risks (E+W+S)
    • Payments for treatment of traffic casualties (E+W+S)
    • General (E+W+S)
  • Part VII (E+W+S). Miscellaneous and General
    • Requirement for approval of persons to assist at tests (E+W+S)
    • Powers of constables and other authorised persons (E+W+S)
    • Duty to give name and address (E+W+S)
    • Duties in case of accident (E+W+S)
    • Other duties to give information or documents (E+W+S)
    • Forgery, false statements, etc. (E+W+S)
    • Offences in Scotland (E+W+S)
    • Inquiries (E+W+S)
    • Application to the Crown (E+W+S)
    • Interpretation (E+W+S)
    • Supplementary (E+W+S)
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Introductory Text

Road Traffic Act 1988

1988 CHAPTER 52

An Act to consolidate certain enactments relating to road traffic with amendments to give effect to recommendations of the Law Commission and the Scottish Law Commission.

[15th November 1988]

Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

Part I
Principal Road Safety Provisions



Annotations:

Modifications etc. (not altering text)

C1 Pt. I modified (E.W.S.) (16.8.2006) by The Dover Harbour Revision Order 2006 (S.I. 2006/2167), art. 27


Driving offences (E+W+S)


[F1 1 Causing death by dangerous driving. (E+W+S)

A person who causes the death of another person by driving a mechanically propelled vehicle dangerously on a road or other public place is guilty of an offence.]

Annotations:

Amendments (Textual)

F1 Ss. 1-2A substituted (1.7.1992) for ss. 1-2 by Road Traffic Act 1991 (c. 40, SIF 107:1), s.1; S.I. 1992/1286, art. 2,Sch.


[F2 2 Dangerous driving. (E+W+S)

A person who drives a mechanically propelled vehicle dangerously on a road or other public place is guilty of an offence.]

Annotations:

Amendments (Textual)

F2 Ss. 1- 2A substituted (1.7.1992) for ss. 1-2 by Road Traffic Act 1991 (c. 40, SIF 107:1), s.1; S.I. 1992/1286, art. 2,Sch.


[F3 2A Meaning of dangerous driving. (E+W+S)

(1) For the purposes of sections 1 and 2 above a person is to be regarded as driving dangerously if (and, subject to subsection (2) below, only if) —

(a) the way he drives falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver, and
(b) it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous.
(2) A person is also to be regarded as driving dangerously for the purposes of sections 1 and 2 above if it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving the vehicle in its current state would be dangerous.

(3) In subsections (1) and (2) above “dangerous” refers to danger either of injury to any person or of serious damage to property; and in determining for the purposes of those subsections what would be expected of, or obvious to, a competent and careful driver in a particular case, regard shall be had not only to the circumstances of which he could be expected to be aware but also to any circumstances shown to have been within the knowledge of the accused.

(4) In determining for the purposes of subsection (2) above the state of a vehicle, regard may be had to anything attached to or carried on or in it and to the manner in which it is attached or carried.]

Annotations:

Amendments (Textual)

F3 Ss. 1 - 2A substituted (1.7.1992) for ss. 1 - 2 by Road Traffic Act 1991 (c. 40, SIF 107:1), s.1; S.I. 1992/1286, art. 2,Sch.


[F4 2B Causing death by careless, or inconsiderate, driving (E+W+S)

A person who causes the death of another person by driving a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place, is guilty of an offence.]

Annotations:

Amendments (Textual)

F4 S. 2B inserted (18.8.2008) by Road Safety Act 2006 (c. 49), ss. 20(1), 61(1) (with s. 61(4)(5)); S.I. 2008/1918, art. 2


[F5 3 Careless, and inconsiderate, driving. (E+W+S)

If a person drives a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place, he is guilty of an offence.]

Annotations:

Amendments (Textual)

F5 S. 3 substituted (1.7.1992) by Road Traffic Act 1991 (c. 40, SIF 107:1), s. 2; S.I. 1992/1286, art. 2,Sch.


[F6 3ZA Meaning of careless, or inconsiderate, driving (E+W+S)

(1) This section has effect for the purposes of sections 2B and 3 above and section 3A below.

(2) A person is to be regarded as driving without due care and attention if (and only if) the way he drives falls below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver.

(3) In determining for the purposes of subsection (2) above what would be expected of a careful and competent driver in a particular case, regard shall be had not only to the circumstances of which he could be expected to be aware but also to any circumstances shown to have been within the knowledge of the accused.

(4) A person is to be regarded as driving without reasonable consideration for other persons only if those persons are inconvenienced by his driving.]

Annotations:

Amendments (Textual)

F6 S. 3ZA inserted (24.9.2007 for certain purposes and otherwise 18.8.2008) by Road Safety Act 2006 (c. 49), ss. 30, 61; S.I. 2007/2472, art. 2(h); S.I. 2008/1918, art. 2


[F7 3ZB Causing death by driving: unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured drivers (E+W+S)

A person is guilty of an offence under this section if he causes the death of another person by driving a motor vehicle on a road and, at the time when he is driving, the circumstances are such that he is committing an offence under—

(a) section 87(1) of this Act (driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence) ,
(b) section 103(1) (b) of this Act (driving while disqualified) , or
(c) section 143 of this Act (using motor vehicle while uninsured or unsecured against third party risks).]
Annotations:

Amendments (Textual)

F7 S. 3ZB inserted (18.8.2008) by Road Safety Act 2006 (c. 49), ss. 21(1), 61(1) (with s. 61(4)(5)); S.I. 2008/1918, art. 2


[F8 3A Causing death by careless driving when under influence of drink or drugs. (E+W+S)

(1) If a person causes the death of another person by driving a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place, and—

(a) he is, at the time when he is driving, unfit to drive through drink or drugs, or
(b) he has consumed so much alcohol that the proportion of it in his breath, blood or urine at that time exceeds the prescribed limit, or
(c) he is, within 18 hours after that time, required to provide a specimen in pursuance of section 7 of this Act, but without reasonable excuse fails to provide it,[F9 or
(d) he is required by a constable to give his permission for a laboratory test of a specimen of blood taken from him under section 7A of this Act, but without reasonable excuse fails to do so,]
he is guilty of an offence.
(2) For the purposes of this section a person shall be taken to be unfit to drive at any time when his ability to drive properly is impaired.

(3) Subsection (1) (b) [F10 , (c) and (d) ] above shall not apply in relation to a person driving a mechanically propelled vehicle other than a motor vehicle.]

Annotations:

Amendments (Textual)

F8 S. 3A inserted (1.7.1992) by Road Traffic Act 1991 (c. 40, SIF 107:1), s.3; S.I. 1992/1286, art. 2, Sch.

F9 S. 3A(1)(d) and preceding word inserted (24.9.2007) by Road Safety Act 2006 (c. 49), ss. 31(2), 61; S.I. 2007/2472, art. 2(i)

F10 Words in s. 3A(3) substituted (24.9.2007) by Road Safety Act 2006 (c. 49), ss. 31(3), 61; S.I. 2007/2472, art. 2(i)


Motor vehicles: drink and drugs


4 Driving, or being in charge, when under influence of drink or drugs. (E+W+S)

(1) A person who, when driving or attempting to drive a [F11 mechanically propelled vehicle] on a road or other public place, is unfit to drive through drink or drugs is guilty of an offence.

(2) Without prejudice to subsection (1) above, a person who, when in charge of a [F11 mechanically propelled vehicle] which is on a road or other public place, is unfit to drive through drink or drugs is guilty of an offence.

(3) For the purposes of subsection (2) above, a person shall be deemed not to have been in charge of a [F11 mechanically propelled vehicle] if he proves that at the material time the circumstances were such that there was no likelihood of his driving it so long as he remained unfit to drive through drink or drugs.

(4) The court may, in determining whether there was such a likelihood as is mentioned in subsection (3) above, disregard any injury to him and any damage to the vehicle.

(5) For the purposes of this section, a person shall be taken to be unfit to drive if his ability to drive properly is for the time being impaired.

(6) [F12 A constable may arrest a person without warrant if he has reasonable cause to suspect that that person is or has been committing an offence under this section.]

(7) [F12 For the purpose of arresting a person under the power conferred by subsection (6) above, a constable may enter (if need be by force) any place where that person is or where the constable, with reasonable cause, suspects him to be.]

(8) F12 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Annotations:

Amendments (Textual)

F11 Words in s. 4(1)(2)(3) substituted (1.7.1992) by Road Traffic Act 1991 (c. 40, SIF 107:1), s. 4; S.I. 1992/1286, art. 2, Sch.

F12 S. 4(6)(7) repealed (E.W.) (1.1.2006) and s. 4(8) repealed (1.1.2006) by Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (c. 15), ss. 111, 174(2), 178, Sch. 7 para. 27(2)(4), Sch. 17 Pt. 2; S.I. 2005/3495, art. 2(1)(m)(u) (subject to art. 2(2))


5 Driving or being in charge of a motor vehicle with alcohol concentration above prescribed limit.

(1) If a person—

(a) drives or attempts to drive a motor vehicle on a road or other public place, or
(b) is in charge of a motor vehicle on a road or other public place,
after consuming so much alcohol that the proportion of it in his breath, blood or urine exceeds the prescribed limit he is guilty of an offence.
(2) It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under subsection (1) (b) above to prove that at the time he is alleged to have committed the offence the circumstances were such that there was no likelihood of his driving the vehicle whilst the proportion of alcohol in his breath, blood or urine remained likely to exceed the prescribed limit.

(3) The court may, in determining whether there was such a likelihood as is mentioned in subsection (2) above, disregard any injury to him and any damage to the vehicle.

[F13 6 Power to administer preliminary tests (E+W+N.I.)

(1) If any of subsections (2) to (5) applies a constable may require a person to co-operate with any one or more preliminary tests administered to the person by that constable or another constable.

(2) This subsection applies if a constable reasonably suspects that the person—

(a) is driving, is attempting to drive or is in charge of a motor vehicle on a road or other public place, and
(b) has alcohol or a drug in his body or is under the influence of a drug.
(3) This subsection applies if a constable reasonably suspects that the person—

(a) has been driving, attempting to drive or in charge of a motor vehicle on a road or other public place while having alcohol or a drug in his body or while unfit to drive because of a drug, and
(b) still has alcohol or a drug in his body or is still under the influence of a drug.
(4) This subsection applies if a constable reasonably suspects that the person—

(a) is or has been driving, attempting to drive or in charge of a motor vehicle on a road or other public place, and
(b) has committed a traffic offence while the vehicle was in motion.
(5) This subsection applies if—

(a) an accident occurs owing to the presence of a motor vehicle on a road or other public place, and
(b) a constable reasonably believes that the person was driving, attempting to drive or in charge of the vehicle at the time of the accident.
(6) A person commits an offence if without reasonable excuse he fails to co-operate with a preliminary test in pursuance of a requirement imposed under this section.

(7) A constable may administer a preliminary test by virtue of any of subsections (2) to (4) only if he is in uniform.

(8) In this section—

(a) a reference to a preliminary test is to any of the tests described in sections 6A to 6C, and
(b) “traffic offence” means an offence under—
(i) a provision of Part II of the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981 (c. 14) ,
(ii) a provision of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (c. 27) ,
(iii) a provision of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 (c. 53) other than a provision of Part III, or
(iv) a provision of this Act other than a provision of Part V.]
Annotations:

Amendments (Textual)

F13 Ss. 6-6E substituted (29.3.2004 for certain purposes and 30.3.2004 otherwise) for s. 6 by Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 (c. 20), ss. 107, 120, Sch. 7 para. 1; S.I. 2004/827, art. 2, 3

Modifications etc. (not altering text)

C2 S. 6 applied (with modifications) (29.3.2004 for certain purposes and 30.3.2004 otherwise) by Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 (c. 20), ss. 83(1)(3), 96(1)(3), 120 (with ss. 90, 100); S.I. 2004/827, arts. 2, 3