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Closing Mobile Phone Loophole

Offence : Using mobile phone whilst driving

On 1 November 2019 the government announced that the law will be tightened to close a loophole that allows people to escape prosecution for hand-held phone use behind the wheel.
At present, the law prevents drivers from using a hand-held mobile phone to call, text, or otherwise communicate. ‘Driving’ includes being stationary if the engine is running, including in traffic queues and at traffic lights. A mobile telephone is to be treated as hand-held if it is, or must be, held at some point during the course of making or receiving a call or performing any other interactive communication.

“Interactive communication function” includes the following:

  • sending or receiving oral or written messages;
  • sending or receiving facsimile documents;
  • sending or receiving still or moving images; and
  • providing access to the internet;

People have escaped punishment where they have they were filming or taking photos while driving because it is argued that this form of phone use does not come under ‘interactive communication’.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps today announced that he will urgently take forward a review to tighten up the existing law preventing hand-held mobile use while driving. The law will be updated and will prevent hand-held phone use in any capacity while driving going further to boost road safety and reduce accident rates.

It is anticipated that any driver caught texting, taking photos, using the phone as a torch, browsing the internet or scrolling through a playlist while behind the wheel will be prosecuted for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving.

The offence carries a fixed penalty of £200 and 6 penalty points, but if the matter proceeds to court the offence carries a maximum of up to £1000 and 6 points on your DVLA driving record. The fine can rise to £2,500 if you are driving a bus, coach or heavy goods vehicle. You may be disqualified from driving instead of receiving points if the offence is aggravated, and this may be for any period of time which the court deems appropriate.

You are also at risk of a totting disqualification should you receive 12 or more points within three years. This will in most cases result in obligatory disqualification of at least 6 months unless you can successfully argue exceptional hardship will arise from the disqualification.

The prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were driving with a phone in your hand and in use. If you are under investigation for this offence contact one of our specialist road traffic law solicitors who will be happy to advise whether you have committed the offence. If you are guilty of the offence we can also assist you to achieve the best sentence and keep on driving.

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