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Instead of getting a £100 fine and three penalty points, you will be handed a £200 fine and six penalty points if you are caught using your phone behind the wheel.
The punishment is enough for those who have had their licence less than two years to have it revoked. If this happens you will have to apply and pay for a new provisional licence, and pass both the theory and practical parts of your test all over again.
If you refuse to accept the Fixed Penalty Notice, you could end up in court.
Similarly, if the police think a fine and points aren’t enough of a punishment you could also end up being taken to court.
The maximum fine in a court is £1,000, or £2,500 if you were driving a bus or a goods vehicle.
If your driving’s bad, or if there’s a crash while you’re using your phone, you could be prosecuted for careless driving, dangerous driving or, if someone is killed, for causing death by careless or dangerous driving.
NFDA Trusted Dealers is supporting the national media campaign to deter drivers from using their mobile phones behind the wheel.
Nick Lloyd, road safety manager for RoSPA, said: “We understand how difficult it can be to ignore your mobile phone, but there’s not a single reason that will excuse putting people’s lives at risk, and hopefully these new stricter penalties will mean drivers think twice.”
So, exactly what can and can’t you do when driving?
Can you use your phone at traffic lights?
No. The law applies even when you are sitting stationary in traffic.
Can you use the buttons on your phone to answer or hang up a call while on hands-free?
No. You can’t touch the phone while driving.
Can you answer a call while driving if the phone is on loudspeaker on your knee?
No. It’s still classed as using your phone while driving
Yes – as long as you programme it before you start the car and set off and it’s in a holder out of the 45-degree angle of the driver’s view. You can’t touch it while in motion. It’s the same for any sat nav.
What are the rules for hands-free?
Hands-free devices are mobile phone accessories that allow you to safely use a mobile phone without holding it, such as Bluetooth headsets and speakers.
While the use of hands-free kits is legal, RoSPA advises that not even this should be attempted while driving. Merely engaging in a conversation will mean that your attention is elsewhere and not fully on the road and if your driving is affected you could be charged with “not being in proper control of your vehicle”.
I need to use my phone for work.
Your employer could be prosecuted if they cause or permit you to drive while using a phone, require you to make or receive calls whilst driving, or install a phone in your car that then causes you to drive dangerously while using it.
What about cyclists?
It’s not an offence to use your phone while cycling but you could be prosecuted for careless or dangerous cycling.
When can you use a mobile phone in your vehicle?
If you’re the driver, you can only use your phone in a vehicle if you need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop. Or if you are safely parked.