Drivers are being warned to keep their number plates clean this winter or face the possibility of a four-figure fine.

Breakdown assistance and road safety firm GEM Motoring Assist says it’s common for number plates to be obscured by dirt in the winter months, but drivers with illegible plates could be fined up to £1,000.

Although it is not an offence to drive a dirty car, number plates cannot be allowed to become obscured or unreadable.

At this time of the year, dirt is thrown up by passing tyres and often coats the front and rear of vehicles, slowly covering the number plates as it builds.

GEM is suggesting that motorists wipe down their number plates regularly in a bid to ensure they stay legible.

And the organisation also wants drivers to wipe down their lights, ensuring they can see and be seen in all weathers.

The guidance comes after the organisation told motorists to check their lights this winter, pointing out that correct use and maintenance of lights would have the potential to improve road safety during the long winter nights.

GEM Motoring Assist’s road safety officer, Neil Worth, said readable number plates were vital to law enforcement and that giving crucial parts of the car a quick wipe down on a regular basis would be beneficial for road safety as the wintry conditions bite.

“A number plate must be readable and not covered by dirt,” he said. “This is to ensure a vehicle can be identified as and when required.


“At this time of year it’s easy for a number plate to get so dirty that it cannot be read. This is usually caused by muck on damp road surfaces that ends up on the rear of a car.

“Although there is no law against having a dirty car, the law is very clear when it comes to keeping your number plates clear; you risk a £1,000 fine if you allow it to become obscured.”

“It makes sense to get into the habit of giving your number plate a regular wipe – every day when conditions require. Do the same for your front and rear lights, and you will be doing your bit for safety during this risky time of year.”