Mobile Phones and Driving

February 3, 2022 11:20 am Published by

In the UK, it is currently illegal to call or text anyone whilst driving unless you are in an emergency where you need to call for assistance. There has been the announcement made by the UK Government of new laws that will take effect this year! This is an attempt to tighten existing laws relating to using a mobile phone whilst driving. Using your phone whilst driving is dangerous for both other road users and yourself, as it lowers the amount of attention you pay to the road. For example, if a driver looks at their phone for just 2 seconds when travelling at 30 miles per hour, they will have travelled 30 metres without looking where they are going.

So, what are the new 2022 laws?

The updated laws that are being introduced will make it illegal for a driver to be on their phone even if they are stationary. This will include:

  • Being in a traffic jam
  • Waiting at traffic lights
  • Waiting at roundabouts
  • Being stationary at stop signs.

The Department of Transport has produced research (conducted by Ipsos MORI) that showed younger motorists are more likely to have used a mobile phone whilst driving. There is also further research that claims as many as 1 in 10 young drivers have admitted to taking a photo or video on their phone whilst driving. This is also evident by the alarming statistic that over 30,000 photos had been posted on Instagram under the hashtag #DrivingSelfie.

The new laws will make it illegal for any driver to use a phone at any time during driving. If you are caught driving whilst using your phone by the Police, you will receive 6 penalty points on your licence and a £200 Fixed Penalty Notice. From Spring 2022 onwards, it will be illegal for a driver to use a handheld phone behind the wheel whether they are:

  • Texting
  • Taking a photo
  • Filming a video
  • Searching through music playlists
  • Browsing the internet
  • Checking social media
  • or playing any mobile game along with any other app.

Ministers will also look at whether devices such as smart watches should also be included in the new rules.

Lilian Greenwood (MP and the Transport Committee Chair) stated:

“The difference between interactive communications and standalone functions on our phones is a loophole that has prevented police from prosecuting drivers who continue to use their phones behind the wheel and put themselves and other road users at risk.”

Is there any time you can use your mobile whilst driving?

There are times when a driver can use their handheld phone, but the driver cannot interact with their phone whilst driving. It is obvious that the safest and most sensible thing to do would be to turn off your phone while driving.  If you insist on using it for maps or music, you should set it up before you leave and only touch it after pulling over to park.

A driver will still be able to use their phone as a sat-nav, but this can only happen whilst it is in hands-free mode and placed in a cradle. It should also be noted that the cradle and hands-free mode has to be set up before the driver starts their journey. It is also legal for a driver to make a 999 or emergency services call on a hand-held device while driving. However, this is only allowed if it is not otherwise safe to stop.

With the new laws bringing driving restrictions into the 21st Century, a driver will still be able to pay at a drive-through restaurant or toll booth using their phone with GooglePay or ApplePay. A driver can only pay via their phone when they are using a card reader to pay for something, but this does not apply to online payments.

What are the Penalties for Driving whilst Using a Mobile Phone?

A driver can get 6 penalty points and a £200 Fixed Penalty Fine if they use a hand-held phone when driving. They will also lose their licence if they passed their driving test in the last 2 years and are considered a young driver.

A driver can get 3 penalty points if they do not have a full view of the road or traffic ahead or proper control of the vehicle.

A driver can also be taken to court where they can:

  • be banned from driving or riding
  • get a maximum fine of £1,000 (£2,500 if the individual was driving a lorry or bus).

What will these new laws mean for New Drivers?

As stated above, there is evidence to suggest that 1 in 10 young drivers have admitted to using their phone whilst driving. If a young driver has just passed their driving test, are within the first 2 years of driving and they receive 6 driving penalty points on their licence, they will be disqualified from driving. To put this into context, if a young driver is caught using their mobile phone in any way within the first 2 years of having their licence, they will be disqualified from driving and will have to start from scratch.

How can we help?

If you have been charged with driving whilst using a mobile phone, we are here to help. We can provide you with our expert defence team to represent your case in court and help you avoid a potentially damaging criminal record.

We will look at all the facts of the accusation and decide what defence against the driving offence is best for your case. This will also include everything from the facts of the case all the way to whether your actions actually amounted to a criminal act.

Our team of litigators and advocates have many years of experience analysing complex factual scenarios and applying them to often novel areas of law. This ensures that we get the best possible results for our clients. Please do not hesitate to call us on 0208 059 0010 or email us on info@drivingsolicitors.co.uk to get expert legal advice for you and your case.