From 25 March 2022, stricter laws will come into place for the use of mobile phones and other interactive devices behind the wheel.
The new changes will see motorists fined £200 and acquire six points on their licence if they receive a fixed penalty for driving whilst using a mobile phone. If you have only passed your driving test in the last 2 years, this means your licence could be revoked.
If an allegation is referred to Court, the Magistrates also have discretion to consider imposing a disqualification if they feel that penalty points are not a sufficient punishment, and a fine of up to £1,000 can be imposed, or £2,500 if driving a lorry or bus.
What has changed?
Section 41D of the Road Traffic Act 1988 makes it an offence to use a mobile telephone or other similar device in a handheld capacity whilst driving. The offence carries an endorsement of 6 penalty points.
Previously, the regulations were fairly vague in terms of ‘use’, and this was often negotiable in law.
Regulation 110 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 prohibited the use, while driving a motor vehicle of hand-held mobile telephones or other interactive communication devices, when performing an interactive communication function.
‘Interactive communication function’ included 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.
However, the new laws imposed on 25 March 2022 go much further, and remove the requirement that the driver is using the mobile telephone to perform an ‘interactive communication function’.
Road users will now be prevented from handling a phone in any way. This includes the following:
These rules will apply whilst on the road, when stopped at a red light, or stuck in traffic.
Road users are still able to use their phones as sat-navs if they are secured in a holder. Hands-free calls are also still permitted.
Can I still use my phone for contactless payments?
As the UK move closer to becoming a cashless society, the use of mobile payments and digital wallet services such as ‘Apple Pay’ is becoming increasingly popular.
Regulation 3(1)(b) amends regulation 110 by inserting an additional exemption to provide that a person is not in contravention of that regulation where the hand-held mobile telephone or interactive communication device is being used to make a contactless payment at a contactless payment terminal, in compliance with the requirements. Regulation 3(2) inserts definitions for the terms “contactless payment” and “an application”.
As such, the law does not prevent individuals from making contactless payments at drive-thrus.
What should I do if I am accused of using a mobile phone whilst driving?
Depending on your circumstances, there could be ways to avoid the high number of penalty points attached to the allegations through negotiations for an alternative offence or arguing special reasons. Alternatively, you could have a defence under Regulation 110(5) which provides that no offence is committed where a person makes a call to the emergency services.
In order to assure the best possible result is obtained in your case, the driver should contact specialist motoring offence solicitors as soon as they have been accused of using a mobile phone whilst driving.
At JMW, we will do everything within our power to protect and preserve your driving licence. Our specialist team of dedicated motoring offence solicitors is committed to ensuring the nation’s motorists are provided with expert advice and assistance when defending against a criminal motoring prosecution.
We represent private individuals nationwide who are facing a whole array of criminal motoring issues.