Unwitting motorists may face hefty fines if they don't ensure their number plate is clean.

We have had a rather cold and wet winter, with mud often spraying up onto cars due to soggy driving conditions.

However, it is actually illegal to drive with a number plate which cannot be easily read.

Under the Highway Code, drivers must ensure "lights, indicators, reflectors and number plates must be kept clean and clear" as part of vehicle maintenance. 

This has become increasingly important with Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) being used on UK highways and in private locations such as car parks.

Thames Valley Police has now stated that those caught with an unclear number plate could face fines of upwards of £2,500.

A spokesperson from the force said: "The maximum penalty for using a vehicle in a dangerous condition is an unlimited fine for passenger carrying vehicles or large goods vehicles and a £2,500 fine for other vehicles."

Motorists may face disqualification of a minimum of six months if the offence is committed within three years of a previous conviction for a similar offence. 

Three penalty points may also be added to a driver's record if caught.