The penalties for using a mobile phone while driving

There’s no getting away from the fact that using your mobile phone while driving is illegal and incredibly dangerous. 
 
Yet, despite highly publicised government-backed awareness campaigns and the hefty increase in penalties, too many people still underestimate the risks of using a mobile phone while driving. 

There’s no getting away from the fact that using your mobile phone while driving is illegal and incredibly dangerous. 
 
Yet, despite highly publicised government-backed awareness campaigns and the hefty increase in penalties, too many people still underestimate the risks of using a mobile phone while driving. 

Holly Cox
Digital expert
4
minute read
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Posted 04 OCTOBER 2021

What are the penalties for using a mobile phone while driving? 

If you’re caught using a mobile phone while driving, you should expect to face a fine as part of your punishment.  

The current penalties for using a mobile phone while driving are: 

  • A fixed-penalty notice – a £200 fine and six penalty points for using a handheld phone when driving 
  • New drivers who have passed their test in the past two years will automatically lose their licence 
  • If taken to court, you could face disqualification and a fine of up to £1,000 (£2,500 if you’re driving a lorry or a bus). 

The government is also considering increasing the penalty for causing death as a result of using a handheld device while driving from 14 years to life imprisonment, as it falls into the dangerous or careless driving category. 

Yet drivers are still using mobiles behind the wheel 

According to government figures from 2017, 1.1% of drivers were seen using a handheld mobile phone while driving on weekdays. 

What is the law for using a mobile phone while driving?

It’s illegal to hold a mobile phone in your hand while driving – even just for a short time. A loophole that allowed people to take photos and videos on their phone has been closed. 
Using a handheld mobile is considered a distraction from driving that prevents you from staying in full control of your vehicle. The Department for Transport says that if a driver looks at their phone for just two seconds when travelling at 30 miles per hour, they will travel 100 feet blind – drastically increasing the chance of an accident. 

The mobile phone driving law also applies if: 

  • you stop at traffic lights 
  • you’re stuck in traffic 
  • your vehicle is in automatic ‘stop-start’ mode 
  • you’re supervising a learner driver

The only times you can legally use a handheld phone in your car are: 

  • if you’re safely parked (not in traffic) 
  • if you need to call 999 emergency services and it’s not safe to stop. 

What about hands-free devices?

You can use your phone while driving if it’s set up correctly with a handsfree aid, such as: 

  • Bluetooth headset 
  • built-in voice command computer 
  • dashboard cradle 
  • windscreen mount 
  • built-in sat nav 

Make sure any devices attached to the windscreen or dashboard don’t obscure your view of the road. 

How could a mobile phone penalty affect your car insurance?

Motorists don’t just have a hefty fine to worry about if they are caught using their phone while driving, as if you receive a penalty, it could affect the cost of your insurance.   

Some insurance providers may even refuse to insure a driver with a CU80 mobile offence. 

So, if you want to keep yourself and others safe as well as avoiding hefty penalties, don’t use a handheld mobile when driving.   

Looking for car insurance now? Let us help you find the right car insurance to suit your needs.

Frequently asked questions

Can I use my mobile phone while supervising a learner driver?

It’s illegal to use a mobile phone if you’re supervising a learner driver. You need to be able to help the learner to control the car at any given moment. That means you can be charged for using a mobile phone while sat in a passenger seat. 

Can I use my mobile phone to pay for items at a drive-through restaurant?

Strictly speaking, making a mobile payment while in control of a car is against the law. But the government hopes to make an exemption for payments made by mobile when the car is stationary and the goods or service received immediately – in a drive-through restaurant, for example. 

Can I touch my mobile phone while driving if I’m not holding it?

Although current rules ban drivers from holding their mobile phone when behind the wheel, no rules mention a ban on touching your phone.  
 
Rules are currently under review to outlaw all use of phone functions. 

Where should I mount my mobile phone in my car?

Although it isn’t illegal to fix your phone to the windscreen, a larger or badly positioned device could be deemed to obstruct your view of the road. One way to make sure that your phone doesn’t obstruct your view is by fixing it to the dashboard in an area that doesn’t block your vision. 

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