Experts have warned that making a small mistake at a drive-thru could cost you more than you thought.

With more than 2,000 drive-thrus across the United Kingdom, there’s plenty of choice for your next fast-food meal, but you don’t also want to be taking away a fine.

In some cases, Brits could be fined up to £5000 when all they originally wanted was a quick £2 burger.

Sam Sheehan, motoring editor at Cinch, the faff-free way to buy a car online, says: “Drive-thrus are cheap and cheerful, so you don’t want to be driving away to find out you’ve got a hefty fine waiting.

"Knowing what you can and can’t do behind the wheel when grabbing your next bite could save you thousands.”

Drive-thru mistakes

Using your phone

As the laws around phone use behind the wheel change, knowing what you can and can’t use your phone for when ordering your fast food is important. Whether behind the wheel of a used Ford or an Audi, no driver is exempt from this rule.  

One TikToker took to the platform to highlight how you can use your phone safely. In a video that amassed more than 153k views, the social media creator doesn’t use their phone until they’re at the drive-thru window. Here, the TikToker explains, you should put your car’s handbrake on and put the gears into neutral.

Using your phone behind the wheel could result in a fine of £200, as well as points on your licence. Those caught multiple times can face fines of up to £1,000 and a disqualification from driving.

As ordering fast food from your phone is easy and convenient, the temptation for most drivers might be to whip out their phone and use the order & pay services in the drive-thru queue. However, this can lead to large fines for the driver.

Sam says: “Don’t think of your phone as a tool for ordering your food – you’ve got staff there to help you. Instead, your phone should be simply an extension of your bank card. Only use it once you’re at the pay window and it’s safe to do so.”


Drive-thrus are notorious for their tight corners. Whether you’re an experienced driver or new behind the wheel, navigating these close lanes can be tricky – but did you know you could be fined for a collision if you’re not careful?

From touching the neighbouring car’s bumper to colliding with a bollard, you could see up to £5,000 in fines for each collision. While you're unlikely to see a fine this large for a drive-thru, any damage to your vehicle or the restaurant’s property could cost you extra.

If you scrape your car on the way through, you could still have to fork out an average of £90 to £150 to fix a paintless dent.

Parking fines

Another hidden charge you might not expect from your food-run could be a parking fine. Multiple people have taken to online platforms to express their upset over receiving hefty parking fines while buying their favourite foods.

From £100 to £450 parking fines, some people find that faulty cameras or long wait times are causing problems for their bank accounts. One woman was fined for parking for 24 hours in a McDonald’s car park when the cameras didn’t capture her leaving. Her trip to the drive-thru two days in a row cost her hundreds of pounds, with others finding themselves in a similar position.

Due to no fault of their own, anyone can receive a parking ticket for being in these locations. Car parks are usually good at tracking who comes and goes, but mistakes do happen, leading to expenses you don’t need.

“Sometimes technology fails, leading to these extreme and unwarranted fines"

Sheehan said: “Sometimes technology fails, leading to these extreme and unwarranted fines. It does, however, also show the importance of having a clean licence plate that’s easy to read. You want to allow the technology to spot you so you’re not receiving unwanted fines for just passing through.”

Drive-thrus are meant to be a cheap alternative to your home meal – you don’t want to suffer hefty fines because of your next Bargain Bucket.

Using a drive-thru doesn’t mean you’re not liable for any collisions, damage, or fines you’d get on any other road. Ensure you’re always paying full attention to avoid a fine dropping on your doorstep.