5 bizarre European driving laws you could fall foul of this summer

Man eating and driving car

Are you planning a driving holiday in Europe this summer? You might have assumed that being part of the EU (for now) would mean that the rules around driving are pretty much the same across the continent (aside from the side of the road we drive on of course). However, there are a number of vital local differences you need to be aware of.

A new study by Best Price Financial Services has highlighted five of the more unusual local laws affecting motorists in Europe - and the price you could pay for breaking them

1. Breathalyser oddity in France

The second you get the other side of the Channel, the first of these odd laws kicks in, because when driving in France, the law states that you must always carry a valid breathalyser in your car. The breathalyser has to be unused, with the French "NF" mark of quality certification. Single-use ones have just a 12-month period of validity, meaning you'll have to stay on top of this apparently essential part of your car kit.

However, the strangest thing of all about this law, is that there is no actual penalty that can be imposed if you're caught without a breathalyser. This is since an announcement in 2013, in which the original €11 fine was postponed indefinitely. So, effectively, whilst it may be against the law to travel without a breathalyser in your car, the police can't penalise you for not carrying one.

2. Harsh eating and drinking rules in Cyprus

It's against the law to eat or drink anything whilst driving in Cyprus - even a sip of water. If you get thirsty in the heat, you must pull over to quench your thirst - and don't even think about breaking open a bag of crisps at the wheel. If you break the rules, you could be fined €85 and get up to 4 points on your licence.

3. Headlight madness in Scandinavia

Throughout Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, it's a legal requirement to have your headlights on at all times of the day. Not using them can lead to an on-the-spot fine if you're stopped by the police, so stick to the law and leave your dipped headlights on around this part of the world.

This law may be due to the longer stretches of darkness experienced in Scandinavia's northernmost reaches. Why it's so vital to continue the practice all year round is less clear.

4. Parking rule oddities in Spain

In most major cities around Spain, there'll be regulations on parking which are tied to the day of the month. In some areas, parking may only be allowed on one side of the road for the days 1st to the 15th, with this swapping for the latter half of the month.

Similar but even more complex rules apply for one-way streets - on even-numbered days of the month, you're only permitted to park on the side of the road where the houses have even numbers, and the opposite for odd-numbered days.

If you're in doubt about the rules on the day, then just follow the lead of the locals, as contravening this law will see your vehicle being towed, with a fine on top for your troubles

5. Rigid about off-roading in Iceland

Throughout Iceland, there are loads of landscapes that seem built for mucking about on in a 4X4. However, it is illegal to drive your vehicle off-road unless in a clearly-marked area. This is actually pretty sensible, because it is designed to protect the country's flora and fauna, which is particularly vulnerable due to the country's harsh weather conditions.

The Icelandic government have therefore made it against the law to take your vehicle off-road, unless you're in a clearly marked off-roading area, or if there is a significant layer of ice and snow covering the ground. Contravention of this law can lead to a significant fine.

If you're taking your own car, then quite aside from the local laws, you also need to think about insurance and breakdown cover. Your policy may not include driving overseas, and even if it does, the restrictions may mean you only have the right to be towed to the nearest garage - at which point your plans to tour the continent may be scuppered even if you have stuck rigidly to the sandwich, breathalyser and headlight regulations.

Weird Laws from Around the World

The cheapest cars to insure
See Gallery
The cheapest cars to insure

Price new: £5,995

Dacia has made a big impact in the UK with its line of affordable motors.
The Sandero is the foundation of the brand's offering and is famed for being the UK's cheapest car.

With a group two insurance classification it's also one of the cheapest cars to insure right now.
The entry level Access model is sparsely equipped, but it has a practical interior, big boot and low running costs.

Price new: £8,060

The Seat Mii is a small city car which Auto Express praises for its spacious interior, good build quality and supple ride.

All models are in insurance group one, bar the group two Sport version.
The Mii is available in three-door or five-door styles, but both measure just 3.5 metres, making it perfect for getting around town.

Price new: £8,090

The Skoda Citigo was crowned Auto Express Best City Car 2013.

The magazine praised its low running costs and practicality as well as its grown up driving experience.
Like its Mii stable mate the Citigo has group one insurance in all apart from its top specification model, making it one of the cheapest cars to insure.

Price new: £8,265

The third of the Volkswagen's group of three city cars to make the list is the Up!

Auto Express says the Up! was 'born to rule' city streets with its small dimensions and lightweight body.
There's three versions of this fun city car; Take Up! has a group one rating as does Move Up! while the higher spec High Up! gets a group two classification.

Price new: £8,345

The Hyundai i10 is another car which can get you a cheap insurance quote thanks to a group one insurance rating across all the 1.0-litre petrol models.

Auto Express says the new 2014 i10 offers big car features in a small package. And for £8,345 you also get Hyundai's five-year warranty and roadside assistance package.

Price new: £8,995

Vauxhall has managed to squeeze one of its full sized Corsas into insurance group two.
Auto Express says the 1.0-litre ecoFlex model has the lowest insurance costs of any mainstream supermini.

The eye-catching design, solid interior and big-car features make it an appealing buy for drivers.

Price new: £9,575

The Smart car caused a bit of a stir when it first appeared thanks to its dinky dimensions and bold two-seat layout, making it very useful for driving about town and absurdly easy to park.

The Smart ForTwo is the latest incarnation, which keeps to the same formula; it still has only two seats and is one of the smallest cars on the road measuring just 2.5 metres long,
The entry level 0.8- and 1.0-litre models qualify for group two insurance.

Price new: £11,810

The Peugeot Partner Tepee 1.6 VTi is the passenger version of the Partner van and according to Auto Express easily the most spacious new car that currently qualifies for a group two insurance rating.

It's got a boxy shape that provides plenty of room and has sliding doors which make it a very practical and flexible family car.

If you're after something smaller the Peugeot Bipper Tepee, which is the smallest of Peugeot's family of Tepee MPVs, also gets a group two insurance rating.

Read Full Story