It’s illegal to use your phone while driving or riding a motorcycle unless you have hands-free access, such as a Bluetooth headset, voice command or a dashboard holder. The law still applies even if you’re stopped at traffic lights, queuing in a traffic jam or supervising a learner driver.
Just holding your phone and nothing more, is unlikely to be considered using it but don’t take the risk as any dispute is likely to require a court appearance. ‘Using’ requires some form of interaction with the device, such as dialing a number, looking at the phone to see who is calling, or speaking to or texting someone. Similarly, interacting with any of the functions on a ‘smartphone’ such as satellite navigation, or pressing the screen to reveal the time, can amount to using your phone if it is not held in a dashboard holder.
If you use your phone hands-free, you must stay in full control of your vehicle at all times. Failure to have proper control of your vehicle or failure to have a full view of the road and traffic ahead could amount to ‘Carless Driving’/’Driving without Due Care and Attention’/’Inconsiderate Driving’ which can result in getting 3 to 9 penalty points, or a disqualification from driving, and an unlimited fine.
The law does allow exceptions, however. If you are safely parked up, you are permitted by law to use your mobile phone. The only time you would be allowed to use your device while driving, is in the event of an emergency, where it is unsafe or impractical to stop.
For offences committed on or after 1st March 2017, you can be fined £200 and get 6 penalty points on your licence. You may be disqualified from driving if you build up 12 points within 3 years.
You can choose not to pay the fixed penalty if you believe that it was given unjustly, but you’ll have to argue your case in court.
If you passed your driving test in the last 2 years from the date of committing an offence of using a mobile phone you’ll lose your licence. For new drivers your licence will be revoked if you get 6 or more points within 2 years of passing your test.
Any penalty points on your provisional licence that haven’t expired will be carried over to your full licence when you pass your test. However, your licence will be revoked if you get any further penalty points that take you up to a total of 6 or more within 2 years of passing your driving test.
If your licence is revoked, you’ll have to apply and pay for a new provisional licence and pass both theory and practical parts of the driving or riding test again to get your full licence.
At Hay & Kilner, we have an experienced team of driving offence solicitors who provide an expert defence service to motorists facing prosecution throughout England and Wales.
For further information or advice, please contact Jonathan Pigford.
Call: 0191 232 8345