Currently reading: 100-mile lockdown trip lands used car buyer in court
Late night private car sale was deemed non-essential by motorway police

Police officers have charged a driver with breaching Covid-19 lockdown restrictions after they travelled 100 miles to buy a used car. 

The incident was reported on Twitter by the Central Motorways Policing Group (CPMG) after a Mk7 Volkswagen Golf GTI was stopped at Junction 6 of the M6 near Birmingham, allegedly having travelled from the north-west of the country. 

The car was initially stopped as officers had information about "other possible offences" before the "Covid-19 breach then came to light". The force tweeted that "a private car swap deal isn't a good or lawful reason to be out at 10pm," having issued the driver with a court order. 

The incident shines a light on what is generally considered to be a grey area when it comes to the new lockdown rules. Car dealerships have been allowed to remain open for click-and-collect transactions, and travel for essential purposes is permitted. 



Responding to comments on its tweet, CPMG said that it couldn't disclose why the vehicle was initially stopped and directed people to the official government guidance for further queries about what types of travel are permitted during lockdown.

A CPMG spokesperson told Car Dealer magazine: "While it's not necessarily a breach of Covid-19 rules to buy a replacement vehicle if required for essential travel, a car swap isn't deemed appropriate during the current lockdown restrictions, where essential travel only is permitted." 

The government has issued no specific guidance with respect to private car sales, mandating only that travel is only permitted for work if it can't be done from home, essential shopping trips, exercise and medical purposes. All should be undertaken as locally as possible, according to the guidance. 

The traffic stop incident comes days after Derbyshire Police issued £200 fines to two women who had driven five miles in separate cars to walk around a reservoir. The pair criticised the officers involved for their "intimidating" approach, and the force said yesterday that it would conduct "an urgent review" into the fines in light of new guidance. 


What does the new lockdown mean for UK motorists?​

Industry analysis: how Covid will hit the used-car market​

Felix Page

Felix Page
Title: News and features editor

Felix is Autocar's news editor, responsible for leading the brand's agenda-shaping coverage across all facets of the global automotive industry - both in print and online.

He has interviewed the most powerful and widely respected people in motoring, covered the reveals and launches of today's most important cars, and broken some of the biggest automotive stories of the last few years. 

Join the debate

Add a comment…
catnip 12 January 2021

I think that the officers in the Derbyshire incident were out of order, they could have just advised those two ladies and that would have been the end of it.

But this case is a bit different: The report says they were initially stopped for possible other offences, and, without wanting to push the stereotype, so many of the drivers of VW group cars driving around my area late at night are comitting other offences. It might be that the occupants were also charged with other offences, but that the police have just highlighted this one to set an example?

Andrew1 12 January 2021
Take a 400m trip with your family while knowing you are infected? Take an additional trip with your family on public roads to check your eyesight? It's all fine, "the matter is closed", the guy is a visionary brexiteer and can't be bothered with rules made for common subjects.
Peter Cavellini 11 January 2021

And there we have it, more angry rhetoric, nothing else, and, at the moment, who have got the toughest jobs?