Drivers face £200 FINES and SIX PENALTY POINTS for simply unlocking their device or illuminating the screen as a crack down on mobile usage begins on 25 March.
This week police will be able to more easily prosecute drivers using a hand-held mobile phone at the wheel after the Government strengthened existing laws in a bid to further improve road safety.
It is already illegal to text or make a phone call (other than in an emergency) using a hand-held device while driving. As of Friday 25 March 2022, laws will go further to ban drivers from using their phones to take photos or videos, scroll through playlists or play games.
This will mean anyone caught using their hand-held device while driving will face a £200 fixed penalty notice and 6 points on their licence.
Drivers will still be able to continue using a device ‘hands-free’ while driving, such as a sat-nav, if it’s secured in a cradle. They must, however, always take responsibility for their driving and can be charged with an offence if the police find them not to be in proper control of their vehicle.
The HUGE penalties if caught
Motorists caught interacting with a mobile device or similar are likely to be hit with an automatic Fixed Penalty Notice. Drivers will be handed 6 penalty points on their licence and a fine of £200.
The case could also go to court and they could be disqualified from driving or riding and get a maximum fine of £1,000 (£2,500 if the individual was driving a lorry or bus).
If the driver passed their driving test in the last 2 years, they will lose their licence.
In some circumstances, for example if use of a phone has caused or contributed to an accident, the Police may prosecute for driving without due care or dangerous driving in order to secure a more severe punishment.
Contactless payment exemption
There will be an exemption to the new law for drivers making a contactless payment using their mobile phone while stationary to ensure the law keeps pace with technology.
This exemption will cover, for example, places like a drive-through restaurant or a road toll, and will only apply when payment is being made with a card reader. It will not allow motorists to make general online payments while driving.
What constitutes ’USING’ a mobile phone?
According to the text of the Statutory Instruments, the meaning of ‘using’ a phone will to cover the following:
illuminating the screen
checking the time
unlocking the device
making, receiving, or rejecting a telephone or internet based call
sending, receiving or uploading oral or written content
sending, receiving or uploading a photo or video
utilising camera, video, or sound recording
drafting any text
accessing any stored data such as documents, books, audio files, photos, videos, films, playlists, notes or messages
accessing an app
accessing the internet.