Most drivers own a mobile phone. Unfortunately, whilst everyone is probably aware that they must have a hands-free device in order to legally use their mobile phone whilst driving, many do not. Furthermore, a mobile phone must be operated without the motorist needing to touch it.
Since February 2007, using a hand held mobile telephone whilst driving attracts penalty points. The same applies to use of any communication device – such as in-car Satellite Navigation systems, computers or Blackberry devices.
The Offence Itself
The offence will be committed even if you are sitting stationary in traffic, unless the engine is switched off. A passenger may also be prosecuted for this offence if they were using their phone whilst supervising a learner driver. Employers may find themselves prosecuted for permitting this offence where they require employees to use or answer phones whilst driving.
The offence will be committed even if the standard of your driving remains unaffected. However, it is possible to prosecute a motorist for dangerous or careless driving where poor driving results or where proper control of the vehicle is not maintained.
Often the case against you will be based on a police officer’s account on what he saw, or thought he saw. It is possible to challenge this at trial by testing their evidence. Expert cross examination is essential here.
Due to the legislation and the seriousness with which Magistrates usually treat these offences (often a zero tolerance approach), the main route of defence is if we are able to convince the court that you were not actually using the device.
With supporting evidence such as telephone records and testimony from the driver, we have been able to convince the court previously that an offence has not been committed.
If further penalty points would result in you accumulating 12 points or more on your licence, then you are at risk of a 6 month disqualification from driving, please see our section on “Totting Up” for further information or contact us to discuss the options in more detail.
If you are facing an allegation of driving whilst using a mobile phone contact us on 0808 168 0017.