In 2003 it became an offence under UK Law to use a hand-held mobile phone (or other hand-held device) whilst driving. If caught, a driver can receive a fixed penalty notice of £200 as well as six penalty points on their licence. Should the case be brought to Magistrates Court, the maximum fine was / is £1,000 (£2500 for bus / lorry drivers).
In 2019, in the case of DPP v Baretto  EWHC 2044 (Admin), the High Court further clarified the law relating to the use of hand-held devices.
It was decided by the High Court that the use of a mobile phone recording a road traffic accident was not prohibited by sections 41D of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (“the RTA”) and Regulation 110 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986. This loophole ultimately meant a driver could download music or take a video or photo and not be prosecuted.
Just recently, updates have been made to this law to stop drivers from exploiting the loophole.
The new law means that drivers are not allowed to have any physical interaction with a phone whilst driving. This includes touching the phone to check times, switch off, even reject a call.
The Department for Transport points out, "People using a hand-held mobile phone in all circumstances while driving will be breaking the law, under new government plans unveiled by Roads Minister Baroness Vere to close a legislation loophole and improve road safety."
UK Gov states you can use a hand-held phone if either of these apply:
Should Police believe you are distracted or not fully in control of your vehicle (even if the phone is mounted and untouched) they still have the power to prosecute.
Effectively, what this means for drivers is that it is best to not use a mobile phone at all whilst driving. If SatNav is required, it should be set it up before you begin a journey. Should you need to make any changes along the route, find somewhere safe to stop to make those changes.
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