Author: Kelly Homar
The Department for Transport has announced recently that the government intends to increase the penalties for drivers caught using hand-held mobile phones in Britain.
The current punishment is three penalty points and a £100 fine but under the new rules, expected to take effect in the early part of 2017, drivers will face a £200 fine and six penalty points on their licence.
It is likely, under the new rules, drivers will have to do go to court if they offend twice. At court they will face possible fines of up to £1000 and at least a six-month driving ban. Newly qualified drivers could be made to retake their test the first time they are caught.
The new rules have faced criticism that the penalties will not be a sufficient deterrent to those people using their mobile phone whilst driving. There are calls for those caught to face an immediate ban in line with penalties faced by drivers who are caught driving whilst over the prescribed limit.
What the law says ….
It is against the law to use your mobile in any way whilst driving – this applies whether your vehicle is moving, stood at traffic lights or stuck in a tailback on the motorway. “Using” the mobile is not limited to phone calls, it includes using it to follow a map, reading texts or checking status updates on social media.
Using a hands-free phone while driving is not against the law, however, you can still be prosecuted if the police think your actions meant you were not in proper control of the vehicle.
You can only use a mobile while driving if you need to make an emergency call and it’s not safe to stop. Otherwise, you must park up safely before using the phone – not on the hard shoulder.