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It is an offence to use a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving a motor vehicle.
This offence carries a standard fine of £200 and 6 penalty points, with a maximum of up to £1000 and 6 points on your driving licence (The fine can rise to £2,500 if you are driving a bus, coach or heavy goods vehicle).
The prosecution have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were actually driving with a phone in your hand and in use.
A mobile phone or 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. The term "mobile phone" also covers cell-phones and smartphones.
"Interactive communication functions" 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. As internet communication is included, the interaction does not therefore have to be with another person.
The particular use to which the mobile phone must be put is not defined as an element of the offence. The prosecution must merely prove that the phone or the other device was hand-held by the person at some point during its use at a time when the person was driving a vehicle on a road. This offence is not just using your mobile as a phone to talk to people while driving. It therefore follows that the phone or device does not need to be seized before a prosecution can be brought.
‘Driving’ includes being stationary if the engine is running, including in traffic queues and at the traffic lights. This means that an individual stopped at a traffic light could be prosecuted for a mobile phone offence.
In order to be found not guilty of a hand-held phone related driving offence you need to persuade the court that you were not using a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving. You can do this by giving evidence that you were not using or holding the mobile whilst driving, this could be supported by providing call or data usage records to show that no calls or texts etc, were made or received around the time of the alleged driving offence.
No offence is committed where a person makes a call to the emergency services in response to a genuine emergency, where it is unsafe or impracticable for him to cease driving whilst the call is made.
In some cases where there is uncertainty regarding the nature of the device, or dispute about whether it is actually being used, the Crown Prosecution Service may consider the alternative offences of driving in such a position that the driver cannot have proper control of the vehicle, or in extreme cases, when the driver was avoidably distracted by that use, careless or inconsiderate driving.
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