…mobile phones!  Yes, doing almost anything with a mobile phone in a vehicle is about the easiest way to attract the attention of the police and collect a straight 6 points without really trying. Just a touch on the screen of your mobile device can be considered an offence and get you into trouble.

The legal bit:  Regulation 110 (1) and (2) of The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) (Amendment) (No 4) Regulations 2003 prohibits a person from driving, or causing or permitting a person to drive, a motor vehicle on a road if the driver is using a held-hand mobile telephone or a hand-held device.

When is it in use?  The law says that a phone or device will be in use where it is making or receiving a call, or performing any other interactive communication function whether with another person or not.

What’s use?  The particular use to which the mobile phone must be put is not defined as an element of this road traffic offence. The prosecution must merely prove that the phone (or the other device) was hand held by the person at some point during its use at a time when the person was driving a vehicle on a road.

This sounds all very restrictive, I hear you say.  Yes, it is!  Very restrictive indeed and it’s almost impossible to hold and use a mobile phone while driving and be legal.

The words “any other interactive communication function” while being a right mouthful are, frankly, critical.  Even if you aren’t engaged in a conversation on the phone while driving you are highly likely to be breaching the regulation if you are doing something else with the phone.  So being curious to see if that beeping noise is a text or Facebook message arriving even with no intention of actually reading it, let alone replying to it, is going to be enough.  Equally, if you use the phone to stream music to your car music system and want to make some alteration using the phone itself then that will be another interactive communication function.  The problem is the words interactive communication function are not defined and so it’s really easy to fall foul of the legislation.

But, I hear you say, I was stuck in stationary traffic which wasn’t going anywhere.  No, don’t think about using that phone even if you have stop start technology built in; you’re not properly parked and you haven’t properly switched off the engine.

The Government advice to put the mobile in the glovebox is actually very wise – or if not in the glovebox then firmly in your pocket or somewhere out of the way completely.  Forget about it until the end of your journey.

Can’t I ever use a mobile phone on the move and avoid a road traffic offence?  The only time you can legally use a mobile phone while on the move is in the event of a genuine emergency and, even then, you need to be sure it’d be unsafe or impracticable to cease driving while the call is made.

In almost every instance don’t touch the phone when you’re on the move!

Michael McGhie, our Road Traffic expert will be pleased to talk with you about your case and discuss the options available to you. If you have  any queries please feel free to call us on 01202 877 400 or email michaelmcghie@newnham-jordan.co.uk.

Michael McGhie
Article by Michael McGhie
Michael began his career at one of the leading criminal litigation practices in Bournemouth. Since then he has worked for a number of high profile law firms across the country.

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