Yesterday marked a steep increase in the punishment for anyone caught using a mobile phone or similar device, whilst driving.
Anyone caught after 1st March 2017 will risk:
- £200 Fine,
- Six-penalty points on their licence,
*Repeat offenders can face up to a £1000 fine and a six-month driving ban.
Remedial courses will not be offered to first-time offenders, as an alternative to ‘Fixed Penalty Notices’.
The legal position is that anyone who is avoidably and dangerously distracted using a mobile phone or other hand-held electronic equipment will be held liable, as per Regulation 110 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use).
The following scenarios apply also:
If you’re stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic,
If you’re supervising a learner driver.
The Crown Prosecution Service guidelines state that any of the following acts can be considered as driving whilst avoidably and dangerously distracted:
- Reading a newspaper/map,
- Talking to and looking at a passenger,
- Selecting and lighting a cigarette,
- Adjusting the controls of electronic equipment such as: a radio, hands-free, mobile phone or satellite equipment.
What has caused the Change?
The Road Traffic Act s.41D(b) and it’s sentencing guidelines have been updated following a Government consultation(s) in July 2016 and November 2016.
The RAC conducted a report in 2016, which showed that an estimated 11 million had admitted to making or receiving a phone call in 2015.
A History of Increases:
This increase in fine and penalty points is not new and is line with past increases.
- In 2003 penalty fines were introduced at £30.
- In 2007 the fine was increased to £60 and three points were introduced.
The Transport Secretary, Mr Chris Grayling said yesterday ‘that increasing fixed penalties will be a strong deterrent for motorists’.
How this will impact New Drivers:
Novice drivers (those who passed their test in the last two years) will have their license revoked by the DVLA when they reach six-points. This was changed following the New Drivers Act.
As a result, the new changes will see new drivers have their licence revoked upon their first mobile-phone or similar device offence.
To regain their licence, they must re-apply for a provisional licence, pass their theory and practical driving test.
How this will impact Experienced Drivers:
Experienced drivers can lose their licence if they receive 12 points in a three-year period.
When can you use a mobile-phone?
It is only permissible to use a mobile phone if you’re safely parked or need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop.
Using hands-free are still legal, providing it does not distract you or affect your ability to drive safely.
Final note of thought:
Last November during a week-long crackdown across the UK over 7,966 mobile phone offences were handed out to motorists, which equated to 47 drivers per hour.
If you have need experienced motoring-law professionals to assist with any of your enquiries, do not hesitate to contact Liberty Law Solicitors today on 01582 459955!