Can we use our mobile phones at all whilst behind the wheel?

We know it’s illegal and the punishments tough but are there any times when drivers can use them?

Motorists in the UK are not allowed by law to use their mobile phone whilst in control of a vehicle and this has been in force since 2003.

However, despite this being the case, it doesn’t stop thousands of drivers from flouting the law year after year. In March 2017, tougher punishments were introduced to crack down on the number of motorists who choose to ignore the fact that it’s illegal to use a mobile phone whilst behind the wheel.

Drivers caught breaking the law can now be issued with a higher fine of £200 and six penalty points. If a young driver manages to rake up this amount of points on their licence, they could lose it.

All new motorists who’ve only been driving for two years or less only have to accumulate six points on their licence to lose it, in comparison to the standard 12 months.
But are there any occasions when a driver can use their phone whilst driving?

Basically no! You should not touch or use your mobile phone at all whilst the engine is running or you are actually driving, even if you stop at traffic lights or get stuck in a queue.

However, drivers can use their mobile phone whilst driving if it’s connected to a hands-free device such as a Bluetooth headset or you use a voice command via a dashboard or windscreen mounted device but you must be in total control of your vehicle at all times and not be distracted in any way.

You could still be prosecuted if a police officer believes your not in full control of your vehicle and seem distracted. Also, if your mobile phone is being used as a sat nav, you must pre-programme your destination before setting off on a journey.

You can only legally use your phone on two occasions whilst behind the wheel – when parked in a safe place with the engine switched off or if you need to call 112 or 999 in case of an emergency and stopping safely isn’t an option.

If your vision is restricted in any way because of a mobile phone or device aid, you could be issued with three penalty points for not having a clear view of the road and traffic ahead.

If a case goes to court you could be looking at a ban and a fine of up to £1,000 for a car or £2,500 for a bus, lorry or HGV. And remember, if you supervise a learner driver from the passenger seat, you too must not use a mobile phone whilst the vehicle is on the road or you could face a £200 fine and six penalty points on your licence.

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