Mobile Phone Use – New Higher Penalty

Using a Mobile Phone While Driving - Moore Motoring Law, Nottingham, UK

Following an increasingly vocal campaign to recognise driving on the phone as being as dangerous as driving whilst drunk, whose proponents include Theresa May, the RAC and the solicitor Nick ‘Mr Loophole’ Freeman, the government has passed an amendment to the existing law increasing the penalties for using your mobile whilst driving.

The Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 (Penalty Points) (Amendment) Order 2017 comes into force on 1 March 2017 and increases the penalty from £100  and 3 penalty points to £200 and 6 penalty points.

 An increase to six points is a clear indication of how seriously the offence is now being taken. Other offences that can attract six points include driving whilst disqualified, driving without due care and attention, and driving without insurance.

If you are a new driver and you get 6 points or more within the first two years of passing your driving test, being caught on your phone whilst driving could now mean that your licence will be revoked automatically by DVLA. If you get 12 or more points on your licence within a 3 year period then you are at risk of a minimum 6 month disqualification under the totting provisions. Offenders will also face an increase in insurance premiums.

According to the Department of Transport, there are two key reasons why this change has been introduced. Firstly, there has been a marked increase in mobile phone use being a contributory factor in both serious and fatal car accidents. Secondly, police operations have reported widespread non-compliance with the mobile phone driving ban. The justification for the penalty increase is therefore quite clear: to increase road safety and act as a stronger deterrent to offenders.

As with the existing penalty, the increased penalty will apply to any ‘use of a handheld device’. This has been broadly construed, and includes scrolling through a playlist to pick a song and inputting the address of a destination. When use of a mobile phone could now mean the loss of your licence, the investment in a standalone GPS system or hands-free kit is clearly a good one. You should also consider making use of the ‘driving mode’ built into all new Android and Apple devices, which dims the screen and blocks all notifications whilst you are driving – this should mean your phone does not intrude whilst you are driving and will therefore reduce the chance of you being distracted whilst you drive.

For further advice on this change or other motoring law matters, including motoring offences, disqualification or penalty points please contact Maria Moore on 0115 784 1588 or

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