Driving: I began an overtaking move across a broken line. When I finished my lane had a solid white line. Was I right to be fined?

solid white line

A solid white line in the middle of the road indicates that you shouldn’t overtake because it has been deemed unsafe. But what about if you start a move legally on a broken line and finish it ‘illegally’ on a solid one? We investigate.

What the Highway Code says about broken white lines

In rule 127 of the Highway Code, it states: “A broken white line marks the centre of the road. When this line lengthens and the gaps shorten, it means that there is a hazard ahead. Do not cross it unless you can see the road is clear and wish to overtake or turn off.”

What the Highway Code says about overtaking

Our reader started his manoeuvre when the white line nearest him was broken. This is entirely legal providing it’s safe to do so. Rule 128 of the Highway Code states: This means you may cross the lines to overtake if it is safe.” It adds: “Provided you can complete the manoeuvre before reaching a solid white line on your side.”

Unfortunately for our reader, they can’t say that they didn’t know the broke white line on their side of the road was coming to an end. There are always white direction arrows in the middle of the road before white lines turn solid. These indicate that overtaking drivers need to get back onto their side of the road.

What about a solid line nearest you?

In regulation 129, the Highway Code states: “Double white lines where the line nearest you is solid mean you MUST NOT cross or straddle it unless it is safe and you need to enter adjoining premises or a side road. You may cross the line if necessary, provided the road is clear, to pass a stationary vehicle, or overtake a pedal cycle, horse or road maintenance vehicle, if they are travelling at 10 mph (16 km/h) or less.”

solid white line
There are arrows on the road approaching double solid white lines (Picture©Wikimedia Commons/Jaggery)

Was the police officer right?

Unfortunately for our reader, we think the police officer who fined him has got him bang to rights. The driver would have been perfectly correct to start the manoeuvre when the line nearest him was broken if he could have finished it while it was still broken.

But they should have used their anticipation and judgement a bit better. This might have enabled them to either start the manoeuvre earlier (assuming it was legal and safe to do so) or not do it at all.

If the line was turning solid again, there was good reason for that, probably a hazard ahead. Sorry but our reader should have been able to see there was a good reason why overtaking at that point was unsafe.

What is the fine?

The 1988 Road Traffic Act says police can penalise drivers for crossing a solid white line. This would be three penalty points and a £100 fine. If the offence is serious enough to reach court and the police officer can prove the manoeuvre was dangerous, the fine could be £1,000. So our reader may have dodged a bullet with the three penalty points and fine.