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Drivers using mobile phones - loophole set to close
The loophole that allows drivers who use mobile phones to escape prosecution is set to close.
In September we did an article and video following the High Court’s decision to overturn the conviction of an individual who used his mobile phone to film a road traffic accident. The Applicant argued he was not using his phone to communicate.
It was held that current legislation has fallen behind advances in smartphone technology and not evolved with the use of mobile phones.
It is illegal for drivers to call or text on hand-held phones but some have avoided punishment for taking photos. Drivers are now successfully arguing that filming or taking photos while driving does not match the wording in the current legislation - which says it is illegal to use a device "which performs an interactive communication" while driving.
Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps has said an urgent review will be carried out to tighten up the existing laws on hand-held mobile use by motorists with a further proposal expected in spring.
Phones being the wheel: The Law
- Using a hand-held mobile phone or sat nav while driving is illegal
- Any hands-free devices should be fully set up before you drive
- Police still have the power to stop you if they think you have been distracted
- The law still applies if you are in traffic or queuing at lights
- You could receive penalty points, a fine and/or a driving ban if you break the law
The fixed penalty for driving while using a hand-held mobile phone was increased from three penalty points and a £100 fine to six penalty points and a £200 fine in March 2017.
Courts can impose a fine of up to £1,000 for cars and £2,500 for HGV and bus drivers, as well as issuing a driving disqualification.
The government said its review would include legislation in Northern Ireland, where road safety policy is a devolved issue.
How can we help?
At Johnson Astills we have a criminal team who regularly deal with a variety of driving offences. Our specialist advocates in the Criminal Defence Team are highly experienced in dealing with driving offences at both the Magistrates’ and Crown Court.
If you find yourself facing any driving offence it is vital to contact a solicitor as soon as possible to obtain expert legal advice. Representation at the police station is free, and legal aid may be available for your case at the Magistrates’ and Crown Court. For offences which do not qualify for legal aid, we offer fixed fees for appointments and representation.