Mobile phone driving laws explained

Since 2003 it has been illegal to use a mobile phone while driving for telecommunications and in 2007 the laws were strengthened to incur three penalty points on your driving licence and a fixed penalty fine of £60, which then rose to £100 in 2013. In 2017, the laws on using a mobile phone while driving were changed again meaning that drivers caught using a phone while driving will receive a minimum of 6 points on their licence and a fine of £200.

 

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When can you use your phone in a vehicle?

 
driver car

It is only legal to use a mobile phone in a vehicle if it is safely parked up and stationary. It is against the law to use a phone whilst stationary in traffic or at traffic lights. The law states that if the engine of the car is running, you should not touch your mobile phone, even if you believe it is safe to do so.

 

Can I lose my licence for using a mobile phone?

 

The current laws mean you can absolutely lose your licence by using your phone whilst behind the wheel. If you are a new driver who has held their licence for less than two years and get caught using your phone, you will receive 6 points and be disqualified from driving. If you have been driving for more than two years, you have to accumulate 12 points before you are disqualified however, if you break the law you can still be fined and it is likely that your insurance premium will rise.

If the police deem an instance to be extreme, they have the power to take the driver to court where you could lose your licence and face a fine of up to £2,000 for using a mobile phone whilst driving. In addition, the law allows harsher consequences when a road traffic accident is caused by somebody using their phone.

 

Hands-free mobile phone use

 

Most new cars come with a hands-free functionality where you can utilise some features on your phone through your car’s dashboard, such as receiving and making calls. If you want to use your mobile phone hands-free, you will need to ensure that you don’t need to touch the phone while behind the wheel. If you try to set up hands-free while driving you will be breaking the law by touching the phone.

Although it is not illegal to use hands-free behind the wheel, the police still have the authority to stop a driver if they believe they’re distracted by their phone, even if it’s hands-free.

 

Using your mobile phone as a sat-nav

 
side of car on road

It is legal to use your phone as a sat-nav providing the phone is mounted to somewhere that is in your line of sight, doesn’t obstruct the driver's view and isn’t touched once the engine has been turned on. If you are using your mobile phone as a sat-nav, you should ensure the destination is set before setting off. If you need to amend your route for any reason once you’ve set off, you will need to safely park up before interacting with your phone.

 

Frequently asked questions

 

If you are looking for temporary insurance cover, there are a number of policies available for all motorists including learner drivers, new drivers or those who want to borrow someone else’s car. If you are in a situation where you might need short-term cover, we’ve taken a look at who it is ideal for, how it works and what it covers.

Using your phone's speaker to speak to somebody while driving is legal, however you aren’t able to touch your phone during the duration of the call without breaking the law.

The only way you can use a mobile phone at a red light is through your car’s hands-free. The same rules apply if you are stationary in traffic or supervising a learner driver.

You aren’t subject to the laws if you’re driving on private property, so you can use your phone whilst driving. However, if the public has access to the private property, such as a private road, then using your phone could still see you breaking the law.

The driving offence code for using your phone whilst driving is CU80 and could lead to receiving 6 points on your driving licence and a minimum fine of £200.

It is illegal to answer your phone whilst driving unless it is through the car’s hands-free. You are committing the offence as soon as you touch your mobile phone, whether you are answering a call, replying to a text or changing a song.

If you feel like you might be tempted to use your phone behind the wheel, you should take additional steps to prevent yourself breaking the law. The best way to stop yourself from using your phone is to turn it off before the beginning of the journey and place it out of reach, such as in the glove box. You could alternatively set the phone to ‘do not disturb’ while you’re driving so that you’re not distracted by notifications or incoming calls.

 
 

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