Driving While Using a Mobile Phone or Hand-Held Device
The law prohibits the use of a hand–held phone or similar hand–held device while driving. A hand–held device is something that “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 device must be used to perform an interactive communication function by transmitting and/or receiving data. For example making or receiving a call, sending or reading a text message or accessing the internet.
If you’ve received a summons or fixed penalty notice for a mobile phone offence, we can help you.
What if I didn’t pick the phone up?
The device must have been held in your hand at some point in order for an offence to be committed. Unfortunately sometimes the police mistake other objects – including hands – for mobile phones and allege that an offence has been committed when in fact it hasn’t. If the police officer stands by what he says he saw, the matter will have to be resolved at a trial.
What are the penalties for committing a mobile phone offence?
If your licence allows ie. you have fewer than 6 penalty points on your licence, you are likely to be dealt with by fixed penalty and receive 6 points and a fine of £200. This was increased on 1 March 2017, from 3 points and £100. If you don’t accept the fixed penalty, the matter will be dealt with by the courts, and usually you will still receive 6 points, but may have a larger fine and costs to pay. You should also be aware that the court does have discretion to order disqualification instead of penalty points if it sees fit.
If you have 6 or more points on your licence, you will eventually receive a Summons and the matter will have to be dealt with by the Court.
Can’t I go on a driving course instead?
There are various driver awareness courses for the different types of offences which may be committed. However, since 1 March 2017, these are no longer available for mobile phone offences.
What if I picked the phone up, but didn’t use it to communicate?
Then no mobile phone offence has been committed, but, if a police officer saw you pick up the phone, you’ll have to consider carefully how you intend to persuade the court that you weren’t actually using it. You may still be guilty of another offences such as failing to be in control of the vehicle. This will depend on the circumstances.
What if I’m a new driver?
If you’ve passed your test less than two years ago and you receive six more penalty points, DVLA will revoke your licence. Therefore, to have any chance of retaining your licence, you need to decline the offer of a fixed penalty and have the matter dealt with by the courts. See also our page on New Drivers.