Just when you think you’re getting on top of your life admin, you could find a small thing you’d forgotten pops up and costs you an arm and a leg!
Like my driving licence, for example. I didn’t realise mine was out of date until I got a letter from the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) telling me I could be fined if I didn’t update it.
It’s not just me that’s behind on this either. According to DVLA data from last year, 2 per cent of drivers have outdated details on their licence — if you have an old address, the DVLA can issue you with a hefty £1,000 fine — which means nearly a million motorists could have to fork out for little oversights such as an old address or forgetting to update the photo every ten years.
These pernicious fines can really snowball and cause problems for people on very low incomes. According to the charity Christians Against Poverty, 14 per cent of people turning to them for help only fell into financial hardship because of court fines for various ‘misdemeanours’.
JASMINE BIRTLES: ‘I didn’t realise my driver’s licence was out of date until I got a letter from the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) telling me I could be fined if I didn’t update it’
A particularly easy one to be fined for is not paying your TV licence. In 2020, it was found that almost a third of women’s convictions were for not paying the TV licence fee, according to the Ministry of Justice. In fact, women are ten times more likely than men to be convicted for not having a TV licence. Currently, a TV licence costs £159 for colour TV, and £53.50 for black and white. You need a TV licence if you ever watch or record shows on any channel via any TV service (e.g. Sky, Virgin, Freeview, Freesat), watch live on streaming services (e.g. ITVX, All4, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Now, Sky Go) or use BBC iPlayer. This applies to any device, including a TV, computer, laptop, phone, tablet, games console or digital box.
Technically you can’t be jailed for not paying your TV licence now — the court can only give you a fine for it — but if you don’t pay, the court can take further action to collect the fine.
In some cases, you can apply for a reduction on the cost of your licence, for example if you, or someone you live with, is 75 or older and receiving Pension Credit. If you’re registered blind you can apply for a 50 per cent concession on your licence. (See tvlicensing.co.uk)
There’s also a completely daft rule that says you can be fined for getting off a train early! Technically it’s because you’re breaking your ‘terms of carriage’. Flexible fares allow you to break your journey and get on a later train at your will. But the cheap, ‘advanced’ tickets are very rigid and limit you to that specific train.
In 2018 one man had to pay £64 for a second train ticket because he boarded at the stop after the one he had bought his ticket for. He had paid £19 for an advance ticket to travel from Nottingham to London St Pancras. But he chose to board at East Midlands Parkway, the stop after Nottingham. So even though he was on the right train, he was forced to pay for a second, full-price ticket because he had ‘broken the terms and conditions’ of his ticket.
Other penalties I’d never heard of include getting fined for not filling in all required sections of the national Census. If prosecuted, you could be forced to pay a fine of up to £1,000, plus the cost of court and legal fees.
You can also be fined £1,000 for parking the wrong way on the street (i.e. against the traffic). The fine can go up to £2,500 for goods vehicles or passenger vehicles with more than eight seats. This one surprised me as I’ve been parking against the traffic for years and never had a problem, but Rule 248 of the Highway Code states: ‘You must not park on a road at night facing against the direction of the traffic flow unless in a recognised parking space.’
STOCK IMAGE: You can be fined £1,000 for parking the wrong way on the street (i.e. against the traffic). The fine can go up to £2,500 for goods vehicles or passenger vehicles with more than eight seats
Even quietly sitting in a park can cost you dearly in some places, if you bring bread to feed the pigeons. Some councils increasingly see the birds as a health hazard and will fine anyone caught feeding them. In 2020 one woman was fined £150 for ‘littering’ in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester, after feeding pigeons a piece of tuna baguette she said was just ‘the size of a £1 coin’.
And finally, before you go on holiday, it’s worth checking online to see if the country you’re visiting has laws that could cost you for infringing them.
In Germany, for example, you can be fined 100 euros (£88) if you stop or run out of petrol on the autobahn. In Singapore, it’s chewing gum that is outlawed.
Anyone who imports gum can face fines of up to $100,000 SGD (£61,300) and a prison sentence. You can also be fined there for littering, spraying graffiti, jaywalking, spitting, expelling ‘mucus from the nose’ and forgetting to flush a public toilet.
How you can claim for pothole damage
A shocking 13 million cars were damaged by potholes last year, costing £1.7 billion to repair, according to Kwik Fit Repairs. In fact pothole-related damage is at a ten-year high, having doubled since 2013, and the average cost per repair is £127.
So what can you do if your car is damaged after hitting a pothole? Well, you might be able to claim compensation from the council for the cost of any repairs. However, that is a big ‘might’. Many such cases against local councils fail in court.
To have some chance of redress, first write to the council responsible for the road that has the pothole, including as much detail as you can gather, including copies of your quotes, invoices and repair receipts. Also add photographs, the location, size and description of the pothole. Councils are supposed to keep roads safe, so you need to argue that they’ve failed in this duty.
File photo dated 11/05/2018 of a car hitting a pothole
If your claim for compensation is rejected, you can appeal. Ask to see the council’s road inspection reports and try to reclaim. The AA advises if the damage is very expensive you should speak to your insurance company or seek legal advice.
Meanwhile Kwik Fit says ensuring your car is in its best condition can minimise problems caused by pothole impacts.
Make sure your tyres are properly inflated as that will not only save you hundreds of pounds in petrol a year but will also act as a protective cushion against problems in the road.
Also (rather obviously) it recommends practising good driving habits such as, where possible, driving around puddles which could hide potholes.
Get 20% off a keepsake video for your family
Would you like to make a video of your memories to give to your loved ones as a keepsake? Living Legends UK (livinglegendsuk.com) records the life stories of remarkable personalities, such as you, in their own homes. Videos typically cost from £999 to £1,499, including travel to each customer’s home across the UK, recording and editing.
But you can get an exclusive 20 per cent off by putting in the code JASMINE at the checkout. This offer lasts until April 30.
Make money by playing games on your daily commute, through the Skedadle app. You can earn up to £60 cash per month just for gaming on the move! Also, if you download the app from my special page, skedadle.com/jasmine, using the code ‘MAGPI’ you can receive a 50p bonus. Offer ends March 29.
If you need a new mobile phone, don’t buy new, buy refurbished, as you save up to £280 on the price. Mozillion.com offers refreshed phones from £150 and you can get an extra £25 off if you use my exclusive code JASMINE25 at the checkout. Every phone comes tested and with a two-year guarantee. Offer lasts until midnight on March 31.
This Tuesday, restaurant chain Wagamama will be giving away free ramen noodles to the first 60 university students and apprentices who show up between 3pm and 5pm to any of its High Street restaurants. You just need to be a member of Wagamama’s ‘Noodle Union’ (wagamama.com/noodle-union) which is a society set up for students and apprentices, offering them perks and discounts.