McHale & Co. Solicitors Blog

That Call Can Wait!

The 1 March 2017 did not only bring with it the official arrival of spring, but a well-publicised change in the law for people who use a mobile phone behind the wheel.

As of 1 March 2017 the penalty for the use of a mobile phone has been increased from three to six points, with an increased fine of £200.00.

This is being seen as an increased deterrent in the face of a number of reported incidents where the use of a mobile phone or similar device by a driver has led to tragic consequences.

The offence is covered by The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2003.

Under Regulation 110 it is illegal for a person to

  • drive a motor vehicle on a road while using a hand-held mobile telephone
  • cause or permit any other person to drive a motor vehicle on a road while that other person is using a hand-held mobile telephone
  • use a hand-held mobile phone while supervising a holder of a provisional licence

The above also applies to devices (other than a two-way radio) which perform an interactive communication function by transmitting and receiving data. This would include

  • Sending or receiving oral or written messages;
  • Sending or receiving facsimile documents;
  • Sending or receiving still or moving images; and
  • Providing access to the internet

It is however a defence if the alleged offender can prove

the telephone or other device was used to call the police, fire, ambulance or other emergency service on 112 or 999;

it was in response to a genuine emergency; and

it was unsafe or impracticable to cease driving in order to make the call (or, in the case of somebody supervising a provisional driver) for the provisional licence holder to cease driving while the call was being made

A mobile telephone or other device is to be treated as hand-held if it is, or must be, held at some point during the course of making or receiving a call or performing any other interactive communication function.

This means that other devices, such as ipads, or a satnav system if removed from its mounting could fall within this definition.

It is also no defence if the car is stationary with its engine running, for example waiting at the traffic lights or in a queue of traffic.

Should the driver of the vehicle in question be a probationary driver (that is, less than two years’ qualified) then the imposition of six penalty points will lead to the revocation of the licence and reduce it to provisional status.

Whilst a driver may be able to argue that the item held was not such a device (and therefore provide a defence), that does not preclude the possibility of other road traffic offences being brought against the driver, such as driving without due care and attention, for which between three to nine points can be endorsed, or even result in a disqualification.

To be certain of avoiding penalties, do not drive whilst holding anything in either hand other than the steering wheel.

 

Categories: Motoring Offences

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