Using a Mobile Phone
What is the penalty for using a hand–held mobile phone whilst driving?
Mobile phone offences are normally resolved by a 6 point / £200 Fixed Penalty. If the case is referred to Court, the 6 point licence endorsement remains the same (in the absence of a discretionary disqualification) but the fine can increase to £1,000.
Can I be banned for using a mobile phone whilst driving?
Although the Court does have the option to impose a disqualification instead of penalty points, in the absence of other simultaneous offences, it is extremely unlikely the Magistrates would take that route.
6+ penalty points?
You risk a 6 month totting up ban (for reaching 12 penalty points within 3 years), if at the time of the alleged offence, you had 6+ penalty points.Totting Up
If you are subject to the terms of the New Drivers Act, a penalty point endorsement for a mobile phone offence will result in immediate revocation of your licence for reaching 6 points within 2 years of passing your test. You would then have to apply for your licence to be reissued on a provisional basis and would only revert to the status of a full licence holder once you have passed both theory and practical tests again. Revocation can be avoided if the Court is persuaded to impose a short discretionary disqualification instead of points.New Drivers Act
What if I was not using my phone?
The offence is based on the phone being used for some form of interactive communication whilst being held in the driver's hand. It is essential that the Police persuade the Court that the phone was being "used" for interactive communication whilst behind held. Interactive communication can include a call, picking voicemails, texting, internet use or satellite navigation use.
There are defences if there was no signal or the phone was being used for non-interactive communication purposes. In those circumstances, there may be a defence of an option to plea bargain to a lesser allegation (being distracted) which would normally result in 3 points. If the phone was being used for an emergency call (but that must be to 999 or 112) that could amount to a defence as well.
What if the Police Officer refused to look at my mobile phone?
The onus is upon the Officer to prove that there was interactive communication. If the phone has not been examined, that may weaken the case but it does not mean you have a guaranteed defence. If the Officer can persuade the Court that you were talking on the phone and were clearly engaged in a call, the offence can still be proved, even if the Officer has not established the number that was dialled etc.
Will the Court impose a higher punishment if I have rejected a Fixed Penalty?
If you plead guilty, you will still receive 6 penalty points but do face a higher fine, plus Court costs and victim surcharge. However, the Court will consider by way of mitigation any issues that you wish to raise explaining why you are pleading guilty but did not accept the Fixed Penalty.Mitigation
Is there a plea bargain option?
If you admit that you were "using" the phone, it is extremely unlikely that the prosecution / Court will consider any alternative options. However, if there is any uncertainty as to whether the phone was being "used" it is possible that the lesser offence of "being distracted" may be available and would normally result in 3 points.
Will the Court always believe the Police Officer?
Whilst the Court should not prejudge any case, it is quite probable that the Magistrates will conclude that the Officer genuinely believes that the offence has been committed and has simply not picked on you for no reason. However, if you can establish that the Officer is genuinely mistaken, then there is every prospect of acquittal. You should however proceed on the basis that it is for you to prove your innocence by obtaining evidence that establishes the phone was not being used.