Could you be fined for using your mobile phone at a drive thru to pay?

Is it really illegal or does common sense come into play

 
In April 2017, tougher penalties were introduced in the UK concerning the use of a mobile phone whilst behind the wheel. Now, if caught you can be issued with a £200 fine and six points on your licence and if the case ends up in court, the fine can increase to £1,000.
But what is the law regarding using your phone to pay at a drive thru – is it illegal?
Over the past few years, the trend for using mobile phones and special payment apps such as Android Auto and Apple Pay have increased in popularity but according to one law firm using your device behind the wheel could get you into trouble.

Is it really illegal or does common sense come into play

Could you be fined for using your mobile phone at a drive thru to pay? © Copyright Jaggery and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


 
According to Lauren Rae, a dispute resolution and claims associate at Dundee law firm Thorntons, it’s illegal to operate a mobile phone in any way that could detract the driver’s attention from the road and includes not just making calls and texting but checking social media, and playing or changing music. It could also include using a mobile phone at a drive thru restaurant to make a contactless payment.
“Put simply, touching a mobile phone whilst the vehicle’s engine is running, could, on a strict interpretation of the law, amount to a criminal offence,” she added.
The best advice to avoid falling foul of the law is to switch off your engine and apply the handbrake before you use your mobile phone for anything whilst behind the wheel.
However, according to the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), the law might not apply to motorists at a drive thru restaurant and only really applies to drivers using a mobile phone whilst behind the wheel on the ‘road’.
Using your phone ‘off road’, such as at a drive thru to pay, may not actually be against the law and officers should use their discretion in individual cases so that drivers don’t have to be punished unnecessarily.
A McDonald’s spokesman commenting on the issue said that restrictions are in place which ensure customers using their drive thru’s drive safely and responsibly. When a customer pays for their goods, their vehicle is stationary whilst their chosen method of payment is taken.
 
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