It is illegal to use any function of a handheld mobile phone while driving.
Devices which send or receive data are also covered and cannot be used while driving if they are handheld. This includes phones, tablets, E-readers, personal digital assistant (PDA) devices or similar, if they are capable of an interactive communication function (sending or receiving data).
Research shows that all phone calls – using any type of mobile – distract you from driving. Reaction times for drivers using a handheld phone are 30 per cent worse than for driving under the influence of alcohol at the legal limit.
You are also four times more likely to crash if you use a mobile phone while driving.
From 1 March 2017, if you use a handheld mobile phone or similar device while driving, you could face:
- A £200 fine.
- Six penalty points on your driving licence.
- Higher insurance costs.
If the case goes to court, you could face:
- A £1,000 fine (£2,500 if driving a bus, coach, or heavy goods vehicle).
- Discretionary disqualification.
- Three penalty points on your driving licence.
If you receive six points on your licence within two years of passing your driving test, you will lose your licence. You must then re-sit your test to get your licence back.
Any offenders aged under 21 who have held a licence for two years or less will automatically lose their licence.
The above penalties apply if you are distracted and not in proper control of the vehicle when using a handsfree phone or similar device.
Please take note of the following advice:
- If you call someone on their mobile phone and they turn out to be driving, please hang up and call them when they’re not driving.
- If you drive as part of your work and need to use the phone for work, put your phone on voicemail and listen to messages when you are safely parked.
When can I make or receive calls using a handheld mobile phone?
- You can call 999 or 112 if there is a genuine emergency where it is unsafe or impractical to stop.
- You can use a phone when safely parked, and when you are a passenger.
Alternative to prosecution
From 8 March 2017, there will be a change in policy across both Thames Valley and Hampshire so that the NDORS (National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme) awareness course will no longer be routinely offered as an alternative to a fixed penalty notice. Officers will use their discretion as to whether, in exceptional circumstances, a course is appropriate.
The What's Driving Us scheme aims to raise awareness of the potential consequences of using a mobile phone while driving.