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Mobile Phones and Driving – Update

By September 18, 2016January 1st, 2017ADI's, Advanced, Learner Drivers

Automatic Ban for new drivers caught texting?

mobile phone

The government is planning to increase the penalty for mobile phone use behind the wheel from 3 points to 6 points and a £200 up from 3 points and £100 fine because current levels of enforcement have been so successful (not)

This means that full license holders who accumulate 12 points within 3 years may be banned.

Assuming that they aren’t offered an Education Course for the first offence

Its not an automatic ban, its down to the court and what you can plead as mitigation, hence the occasional news story about x number of drivers on the road with a ludicrous amount of points on their license and still driving.

Your licence will be revoked if you get 6 or more points within 2 years of passing your test.

The Police and the Courts have no powers in relation to this, it is an administrative procedure carried out by the DVLA.

6 points, and that’s it – Licence Revoked (007) unless you can convince the magistrates in mitigation to give you less than the number of points that would take you up to 6, or impose an alternative penalty.

After your license is revoked and you have to retake both tests. (This is not the same being banned)

You can continue to drive as a FLH until the penalty is processed and advised by the DVLA, then after than you can drive as a provisional license holder accompanied by a full license holder and displaying L plates.

I can’t help feeling the message is now somewhat mixed as on the one hand they are offering education courses to drivers to avoid points and a fine for mobile phone use, but on the other hand they’re now saying its so serious that the penalty has to be doubled….*

When is it legal to hold a mobile phone when driving?

From GOV.UK :-

When you can use a phone in your vehicle

If you’re the driver, you can only use your phone in a vehicle if you:

  • need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop
  • are safely parked

Using hands-free devices when driving

You can use hands-free phones, sat navs and 2-way radios when you’re driving or riding.

But if the police think you’re distracted and not in control of your vehicle you could still get stopped and penalised.

Note: It’s also illegal to supervise a provisional license holder while using a mobile phone.  You may may see some Driving Instructors using bluetooth headsets. I would suggest that full attention really needs to be given to the pupil and the road conditions, and were something to happen they may be liable for use/cause/permit/aid/abet offences.

Contrary to recent reports in the Motor Schools Association Newsletter it remains legal to use a mobile phone when stationary in a layby with the engine off??!! – I’ve no idea what happened in the case they reported but it seems to me to be not the full story.


You can see the full legal definition here

A few notes and thoughts on some legal technicalities

“No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a road if he is using…a hand-held mobile telephone”

Of course with smartphones this becomes even more interesting as in the Jimmy Carr case – Although being a magistrates court case the decision isn’t binding on future cases, so unless you can afford to hire Mr Freeman I’d think very carefully about this line of defence if stopped.

The vehicle needs to be parked with the engine off, if you are holding and using the phone.

The Divisional Court has accepted a finding that a person sitting in the driver’s seat of a car with the engine running was ‘driving’ (Planton v DPP 2002) – (Interestingly this was before the introduction of the mobile phone legislation and I wonder if it had taken place afterwards if the same conclusion would have been reached)


Stop / Start Technology ?  The court is entitled to take an obvious view on driving – They are unlikely to accept that someone in a traffic queue with the engine off due to stop/start isn’t “driving”

Road – The legislation only specifies “Road” not “Road and other public place” in a lot of other legislation. Therefore a supermarket car park for example doesn’t count (Cutter v Eagle Star Insurance Co. Ltd 1998 and Clarke v Kato 1998).

However a road stretches to the boundary or grass verge including the pavement either side – so layby’s and on road parking parking places all count.

*Update November 2016 – Earlier this month it’s been announced that Driver Improvement Courses will no longer be available for mobile phone offences next year, so someone was listening to me after all….


As always with this type of post, this isn’t a substitute for legal advice – See a solicitor if that’s what you require – Don’t turn up to court with a defence based on ‘I read on the internet’