Updated: Tuesday, 21st November 2017 @ 8:07am

Legal Eagle: Can you drive your car even if it has a chip in the windscreen?

Legal Eagle: Can you drive your car even if it has a chip in the windscreen?

| By MM staff

We’ve all seen the adverts, get that chip in your windscreen fixed before it becomes a crack and you’re forced to fork-out a large sum of money for a replacement.

We’re told that such a small chip could become a massive problem but, as with anything motoring-wise, money and time can often be a factor in how quick something can be repaired.

But is it safe to drive with a chip on the windscreen and is it even legal?

MM have teamed up with Olliers Solicitors, a leading criminal law firm based in Manchester, to answer your questions.

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Hey MM,

I've been driving around with a chip in my windscreen for the last couple of weeks. It's only a small chip, a couple of milimetres at most.

But I was wondering if it was illegal to drive around with a chip in the window? I know it will eventually crack and that needs sorting, but I need to wait until I get paid for it to get fixed.

So can I legally drive around in the mean time?

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Driving around with a windscreen chip or crack could constitute use of a motor vehicle in a dangerous condition and theoretically an officer could issue a fixed penalty notice if you were to be caught driving the vehicle.

Furthermore, should you have an accident as a result of not being able to see adequately through the chip/crack you could end up being charged with driving without due care and attention and as a result could struggle to defend the matter.

Having said that, receiving a fixed penalty is unlikely but driving around with a chip in your windscreen could cause problems when you need to MOT your vehicle.

There are clear rules about what must be repaired on different parts of your windscreen, particularly the part that is swept by your windscreen wipers. 

Depending on size and position a chip on your windscreen can be a distraction or even impair vision.

If a chip is in the driver’s line of vision, it only has to be bigger than 10mm for your windscreen to fail its MOT.

The MOT testers manual refers to ‘any damage not contained within a circle of 10mm’ so a cluster of minor damage could also fail.

Additionally, damage larger than 40mm in the rest of the area that does not include the area incorporating the driver's line of vision will fail.

It should be noted that many chips can be repaired before they eventually crack and this is a much more inexpensive manner of dealing with the problem. 

Damage of up to 40mm across can sometimes be repaired, depending on where in the screen it is situated.

If the damage is right in front of the driver – in the area known as the 'A zone' – only damage up to 10mm can be repaired.

Repair involves cleaning and drying the damaged area and filling it with a clear resin with similar optical properties to glass.

We would advise that you contact your insurance company in the first instance as most insurance companies have arrangements with windscreen repair companies.

They often will repair the chip at a nominal fee to yourself, often free or just £10, with the rest of the costs being covered by the insurers.

They will often attend at your home address or place of work and the work takes less than an hour.

Furthermore, this often does not affect your no claims bonus although you should check the contents of your insurance policy to be sure.  

This is definitely the safest way to deal with the problems as nobody would wish to suffer the stress, inconvenience and expense of an accident resulting from a windscreen cracking while driving.

Do you have a question for the legal team at Olliers Solicitors? 

Their specialist criminal lawyers – including a specialist motor law department – are ready to answer your questions for FREE. All you have to do is email them in to our newsdesk here: newsdesk (at) mancunianmatters (dot) co (dot) uk

You can find more about Olliers Solicitors here.

Image courtesy of Tim Lucas, with thanks