It’s an offence to use a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving a motor vehicle. Under current UK case law, ‘driving’ includes being stationary if the engine is running, including in traffic queues and at traffic lights. Prosecutions for these offences is designed to promote UK road safety. (Section 110 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986).
This offence carries a standard fine of £200 and 6 penalty points, with a maximum of up to £1000 and 6 points on your driving licence (The fine can rise to £2,500 if you are driving a bus, coach or heavy goods vehicle).
If you choose to reject the fixed penalty and ask for a court hearing you will be at risk of higher fines and court costs but the points will remain the same.
The prosecution have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were actually driving with a phone in your hand and in use.
“Use” includes using the device for any telecommunication purpose, not just making or receiving calls.
This includes texting while driving, using any other Apps, or messenger services that allow you to communicate with other people. This offence is not just using your mobile as a phone to talk to people while driving.
If you get caught driving while using a mobile and if you were considered to be holding the phone, you will be at risk of 6 points and a fixed penalty or a summons to court.
In order to be found not guilty of a hand-held mobile phone related driving offence you need to cast a doubt.
You can do this by giving evidence that you were not using or holding the mobile whilst driving and that the officer was mistaken (you should rarely accuse an officer of lying unless you can prove this beyond any doubt!).
It also help if you are able to exhibit your call records to show that no calls or texts etc, were made or received around the time of the alleged driving offence.
Bear in mind if you are caught using a hand-held phone (or texting) whilst driving, that quite often the police will not be interested in gathering relevant evidence of the offence.
This potential evidence can include your call or data usage records, or evidence that you had made or received text messages or communications via other messenger apps, Facebook, WhatsApp, SnapChat, Twitter etc.
Sometimes officers will refuse to look at your device usage history in order to verify your call records.
This can be used to your advantage at trial.
This is because a police officer is under a duty to carry out a proper investigation. He is required to look for both evidence that points towards a driving offence (of hand-held usage whilst driving) having been committed and also evidence that points away from a driving offence being committed.
When the officer is cross examined at trial it should be put to him that he was offered the opportunity to check the phone records and texting history but failed to do so.
Police officers will often stop you on suspicion of driving while using a hand-held phone and then change the allegation at the last minute.
They will often change the charge to "not being in proper control of a vehicle".
This carries the risk of 3 points or a discretionary driving ban, fines and court costs.
You normally get the offer of 3 penalty points on your driving licence and a £100 fixed penalty.
Officers tend to change tack because something you say in your defence makes the officer uncertain that they will be able to prove the offence that you were actually using the phone while driving.
For example if you asked the officer to look at your call log which shows you were not using your phone at the moment you were seen and stopped.
Officers then tend to change tack and accuse you of fiddling with the device rather than actually texting or calling from it.
In order to convict you at court the officer would have to prove that you were not in proper control (e.g. weaving) and that you did not have a full view of the road ahead (e.g. looking down at the buttons or screen).
We successfully defend lots of hand-held phone use and texting related driving offence allegations.
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I am writing to you both to say how pleased and relieved I was yesterday to have been found not guilty in court. My barrister Mr Kingsliegh Viollet was so thorough and did a fantastic job putting my case forward. I was very nervous about the whole situation, having never been in court before but, he instantly put me at ease and talked me through the process clearly and with confidence. His court room manner was impeccable and his line of questioning to the police proved beyond shadow of doubt that they did not carry out their job correctly and what they thought they saw was clearly inconclusive and incorrect. The decision making from the magistrates was a very quick one and I felt this was because Mr Kingsliegh Viollet put forward such a strong case on my behalf. I would like you to pass on my thanks to Mr Kingsliegh Viollet for achieving my not guilty result and I would like to thank you and your team for all your help and advise leading up to the court hearing.
The prosecution offered no evidence and the case is dismissed. “Free to go home”. Thank you very much for all. I am deeply grateful. And I learned a lot. I hope I will not need your services again but if I do, I will come straight back, and have already recommended you to a colleague with a similar matter.
I have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending Patterson Law who have clearly demonstrated their expertise in motoring law generally and an alleged mobile phone offence in particular. I suppose the easy option in a situation such as this is to plead guilty and accept the offer of a fixed penalty. But because of their considerable previous experience and knowledge of the law they gave me the confidence to challenge the notice issued by the Police. Patterson Law have a clearly defined and highly effective process for dealing with cases like this. They explained this to me very clearly and followed it to the letter. The outcome could not have been better- having considered the submission prepared by yourselves, the Police dropped the charge before it went to court. So if you do have a motoring problem I would urge you to use these guys- they really know what they’re doing, they’re very good at keeping you informed, they care passionately about their clients and give you the best chance of achieving the outcome that you want.
Very professional and reassuring advice & a very satisfactory conclusion.
Just a quick follow up to say thank you Hannah for all your hard work over the past few months. As I’m sure you’ll be aware by now, Nigel was successful in presenting our case on Monday and we got the outcome we were looking for. I honestly can’t fault his professionalism, or your determination for that matter, you’ve both been brilliant. Thanks once again Hannah, I’m certainly glad I had you on my side!