Using A Mobile Phone
Using a Mobile Whilst Driving (Reg 110 Construction and Use Regulations 1986)
Many people will be aware of the consequence of using a mobile while driving, but not everyone will be fully aware of when a mobile phone can be used and in what context.
Mobile phone laws were first put into place in December 2003, and the penalties initially the penalty was 3 points on a licence and a small fine. This fine started out as £60, but was increased to £100 in 2013, and then doubled in March 2017 which meant drivers caught using a mobile while driving could potentially receive 6 points and a £200 fine. There are other offences which you can be charged with if you are distracted by any device such as not being in proper control of a vehicle, or even careless driving, but the most common offence as we are discussing here is Using a Handheld Mobile Device Whilst Driving.
To be charged with using a mobile phone whilst driving the police or prosecuting authority must prove, beyond reasonable doubt that:
- You were driving – You must have been driving at the time of the offence, stopped momentarily would usually still be deemed as driving. However if you were stationary in traffic for a long period of time, with no prospects of moving for some time there may be an argument to be had that at the time you were not driving.
- On a road – If you were on private land at the time, there may be an argument you were not on a road.
- Whilst Using – There has been a lot of debate about what constitutes ‘using’ as there is no statutory definition. However in our experience it must involve some kind of ‘interactive communication’ of actually using the mobile phone – For example picking a mobile telephone up and plugging a mobile telephone in, would not appear to be prohibited by legislation. There are many other examples and much will depend on the circumstances.
- A Hand-held Mobile Phone/Device –It must be a device which is, or must be held at some point during making or receiving a call or message, or performing an ‘interactive communication function’. Clearly this includes all mobile phones, however, it does not include MP3 players, dedicated sat-navs or remote controls. It also does not include hand held radios or remote controls for in vehicle entertainment systems.
The Law When Using a Mobile with Hands-Free
Those who must use their mobile when driving need to ensure that they have the right kind of hand-free system in place. To ascertain as to whether the hands-free system you are using is legal, you simply need to ensure that it allows you to use the device when driving without having to physically hold the phone.
If there are any times when you must focus on the handset, the same fines could be an issue as if you were using a mobile without hands-free.
Is Using a Mobile with Satellite Navigation Legal?
Although there is no issue in using a mobile phone for its satnav function, it’s still important that there is no physical contact with the device when the vehicle is in motion and the phone is conducting ‘interactive communication function’. If stopped by the police, they will rarely accept that you were checking the satnav as a viable reason for handling a mobile while the vehicle is in motion. Although, there may be a defence should you be charged for doing this, if the phone in question had pre-downoaded maps, and was not conducting an ‘interactive communication function’.
Is Using a Mobile When Traffic is Stationery Okay?
The reason why mobile phone use by drivers is frowned upon is that distractions have the potential for accidents. Even those waiting for traffic to move should assume that it’s not okay to use the phone, as attentional must always be paid to the road.
Again, anyone caught using a mobile while waiting at the lights could be subjected to the same penalties as those caught driving while using a mobile.
Could I Lose My Licence When Using a Mobile?
As seasoned drivers are only allowed up to 12 points endorsing on their driving licence within a three-year period, this means that it would only take two mobile-related incidents to be subject to the ‘totting’ provisions, which mean you would be disqualified for a minimum of 6 months tor ‘totting up’ 12 or more penalty points within a 3 year period.
New drivers are only allowed up to six penalty point within their first two years of driving, which means being caught using a mobile when driving one time could be all it takes, resulting in facing their licence being revoked by the DVLA
What to Do When Caught Using a Mobile When Driving
It’s understandable that some will want to offer a reason as to why they were using a mobile while driving, but this isn’t always easy to explain at the roadside. The reasons why people use a mobile while driving can be plentiful, so it’s important that all the facts are highlighted.
Also, using your mobile phone for anything which does not include an “interactive communication function” is technically not prohibited by legislation, and there is good case law to support this. For instance taking a photo whilst driving, or playing music through your phone.
Turner White Solicitors has several years’ experience in relation to motor offences and understands how detrimental it can be to those caught using a mobile while driving. If you feel points have bene unfairly added, or you’re just looking for some legal advice in relation to using a mobile, then why not get in touch with Turner White Solicitors to discuss your requirements in more detail.
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