Using Mobile Phone

What is the law on using a mobile phone?

It is an offence to drive or supervise the driving of a motor vehicle whilst using a handheld mobile telephone or other handheld interactive communication device.

Regulation 41D(b) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and Regulation 110 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988

What is the penalty for using a mobile phone whilst driving?

The Police normally resolve a mobile phone offence by a 6 points / £200 Fixed Penalty Notice. If you have received a Single Justice Procedure Notice, whilst the penalty point endorsement remains at 6, the fine can increase to £1,000.

What if I was just holding the phone?

This allegation, whilst very common, is quite complicated and is quite often not fully understood by the Police. The critical issue is what constitutes "use" by way of interactive communication. It may be that a phone is being held for some other purpose but is not being used for interactive communication. If you accept that you were involved in a call, texting, picking up messages, or any sort of internet communication (to include satellite navigation) whilst holding the phone, it is best to plead guilty. However, if you dispute "using" the device and maintain that you were simply holding the phone etc., it would be sensible to obtain detailed guidance to establish whether the allegation can be challenged, or if there is an option to plea bargain to a lesser offence which would result in a lower penalty.

Is holding a phone whilst driving an offence?

No. To be guilty of the offence of using a mobile phone, the Police must establish that you were involved in some form of interactive communication. Merely holding the phone is not an offence, unless the Police can prove you were distracted.

Should I seek advice even if I am guilty of the offence?

Yes. You may well be able to reduce the fine, even if you cannot alter the number of penalty points. Further, if you already have 6+ points, you will be at risk of a totting up disqualification of 6 months so you should seek guidance on how to best to challenge that.