In the UK, Is It Legal to Use a Sat Nav?

I love travelling, and I love going to new cities and exploring that city.  There are two problems with this.  Firstly, I hate getting lost, and secondly, I hate worrying about driving and the local laws.  Personally, I use a dedicated Garmin Drive Sat Nav, as it provides not only fantastic directions, but also helps with things I worry about such as taking calls while I am driving and wondering about speed limits.  Speed fines in the UK are brutal, and I hate getting them, so knowing how fast you are going compared to the speed limit, is a vital part of traveling safety.  One question though, is it legal to use a sat nav in the UK?


Whether your planning to use your smartphone in conjunction with an app or a dedicated car satellite unit, the highway code does not make any specific reference to where it should be located on your screen.  What it does say is that it should not block your view out of your windscreen.  As a result, you can place your sat nav unit on your windscreen, but it’s a good idea to keep it as low as possible and to one side where it does not obstruct your view.

Holding Your Navigator or Smartphone

If you’re caught holding a smartphone, whether your using it to make calls, or to following directions, you likely to be prosecuted for using a handheld mobile phone while driving. This is a major fine of £200 and you will also be given six penalty points.  If you’re speeding and holding your phone, the offence could be upgraded to the point where you’re taken to court and banned from driving and a maximum fine of £1,000 or £2,500 if you’re driving a commercial vehicle.

The same law applied to a dedicated sat nav unit. If you’re caught holding your Garmin Navigator while you’re driving, you could be prosecuted under the careless driving act, where your driving is considered to be impaired as your concentration is elsewhere. This is punishable by a maximum unlimited fine and three to nine penalty points.

What About Touching Your Sat Nav

While he law in the UK is a little unclear on where your navigator should be on your windscreen, its even more unclear about whether you can use your navigator while your driving.  There is nothing in the law that says you cannot, but there is rule 149 that says you must always exercise proper control of your car . Looking at your navigator and pressing buttons as you try to change the location of your destination could easily suggest a break of this policy and a charge of dangerous driving.

If you want to operate your navigator and drive, its probably a good idea to pull over to the side of the road before you start fiddling with your gps directions. 


Remember, you’re in charge of your vehicle and therefore responsible for your car and its passengers.  It’s a good idea to program your route into your gps unit before you leave, and make sure you check it.  This allows you to make sure that you have chosen the correct route and that its suitable for your car.

This is particularly important if you’re going to take your motorcycle off-road and follow an off road route using your motorcycle sat nav unit.  What generally happens, you plug in the route into your gps, and when you come to look at it, its either not suitable or not the route that you think is best.

The most important part of using a gps unit is to keep your maps up to date.  This will stop the possibility of wrong direction and wrong routes which will help to stop any problems along your route.  Remember the maps are continually being updated and keep the maps updated will also mean that you have all the latest routes and maps.