Prosecution for mobile phone use
Prosecutions for mobile phone use behind the wheel has dropped by 47% since 2009
The law that made it illegal to use a handheld mobile phone whilst driving was passed in 2003, and the current penalty for anyone found guilty of doing it is a £100 fine and three penalty points added to their licence. The number of motorists that are prosecuted for using a mobile phone behind the wheel has dropped by 47% since 2009.
Figures obtained by the Department for Transport suggest that mobile phone usage behind the wheel has not declined, despite what the lower prosecution rate seems to suggest. In 2014, 1.6% of motorists were seen to have been using a mobile phone behind the wheel, compared to 1.4% in 2009. This is surprising as over a third (34%) of motorists ranked using a mobile phone behind the wheel as one of their top safety concerns.
The decline in prosecution is mainly attributed to government cuts to the policing budget, which means that there are fewer officers patrolling the streets; in fact policing numbers have been cut by nearly a quarter.
The law when using a mobile phone whilst driving
It is against the law to use a handheld mobile phone or device such as a Blackberry whilst driving a vehicle or a motorbike. It’s also illegal to use these devices if you are supervising a learner driver. Failure to comply with this law could result in a £100 fine and three penalty points on your licence. If using a mobile phone behind the wheel is having a detrimental effect on your driving ability, you could be punished more severely for dangerous driving, careless driving, or if a death is caused due to your negligence, death by dangerous driving.
If your case goes to court the consequences may be even more severe and you may face disqualification and a fine of £1000 (up to £2500 if you were driving a bus or a goods vehicle).
You can use your mobile phone whilst driving if:
- You need to call 999 or 112 to report an emergency and it is unsafe to stop the vehicle to do so.
- You are in a parked vehicle.
- You are an accompanying passenger in a vehicle.