Increased penalties for use of mobile phone at the wheel

Those caught using a mobile phone while driving will now receive at least 6 penalty points by way of punishment. Richard Wood of Hansells Solicitors looks at the recent changes to mobile phone legislation and assesses who is likely to be most affected and what they can do about it.

“With penalty points and fines for using a phone while driving doubling to six points (or a disqualification) and £200.00, the potential impact of a conviction for this type of offence will now be much more severe. The previous penalty of 3 points would not often result in a driver being disqualified by the courts or otherwise taken off the road.

However, the new regime will hit drivers much harder, especially those who have held full licences for less than 2 years. These so called “probationary” or “ new” drivers will now have their licences automatically revoked by the DVLA if they are convicted of using a mobile telephone while driving a vehicle. Those drivers who have their licences revoked in this way will not be allowed back onto the roads until they have successfully re-applied for their driving licence and re-taken the driving examination. In practice, this will be equivalent to a driving ban of several months, even if the driver passes the examination at the first time of asking.

But it is not just new drivers who will bear the brunt of these increased penalties. With drivers facing minimum bans of 6 months if they get to 12 points or more, these changes will leave more of our clients left to argue exceptional hardship in order to avoid significant driving disqualifications as a “totter”. Also, with public attitudes towards mobile phone use hardening, the courts are likely to issue more ‘out right’ bans for this offence.

With Twenty-two people killed and 99 seriously injured in road accidents where drivers were using a mobile phone in 2016 in Britain, one can see the justification for these changes. However, for those of our clients whose livelihood depends on being able to drive, these types of cases can have disastrous effects.

Police forces across the country will be increasing patrols and cracking down on mobile use. If you feel you have been wrongly charged, then we can help you.

We have often found that police officers can mistakenly believe that a driver was using a mobile phone based on a fleeting glimpse of the vehicle as it goes by. We have successfully defended many clients falsely accused in this way.

The Regulations which apply to the use of mobile phones while driving are complicated. Clearly using a mobile to make or receive a call (other than by way of a hands free device) will be unlawful. As would making or receiving a text message or email.

But what about using the phone as a navigation device? Is this unlawful?

What if you catch a telephone as it falls from the dashboard?

Each case is different and you may need expert advice about your situation.

Offenders involved in road accidents while using a mobile phone already face serious offences such as causing death by dangerous driving, which can carry a substantial prison term. Drivers can also be charged with ‘not being in proper control of a vehicle’, whether by reason of using a mobile telephone, to some other reason such as changing a CD or radio station (or even using a hands free device). My advice: the only real safe course of action is to avoid mobile phone use completely while driving.”

If you have been charged with a mobile phone offence, or any other motoring offence, then please call our 24 hour advice line on 0808 156 11 77  for a free and without obligation discussion about your case or email