Using mobile phone to take a photo whilst stationary in a motor vehicle. The Crown Prosecution Service have agreed recently not to oppose an appeal to the Crown Court in relation to an allegation of using a mobile phone whilst driving.
Client was stationary at lights and was taking a selfie photo of himself and his partner with a famous London landmark in the background.
A temporary stop at traffic lights or in a queue of traffic is still classed as driving. Therefore the fact that he was stationary would not be a defence if what he was doing constituted ‘using a hand-held mobile phone’.
We have around five new enquiries every week where people have been accused of using a hand-held mobile phone where the officer is not necessarily saying that the purpose of the usage was for interactive telecommunication.
We are very firmly of the view that it is only an offence to use a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving (this includes a temporary stop) if what you are doing with it at the time amounts to interactive telecommunication.
Therefore taking a photo which is stored in the memory of the phone (as opposed to live streaming or posting the photo directly onto Facebook for example) is not interactive telecommunication and therefore does not create this offence.
If you were moving, perhaps in slow-moving traffic approaching an accident, whilst doing this then it may constitute an offence of driving without due care or not being in proper control, but again our view is that it does not constitute an offence of using a mobile phone.
The Crown Prosecution Service agreed not to challenge our appeal to the Crown Court and this is the argument that we raised on the half of our client behind the scenes.
We are in no way suggesting that it’s a good idea to take photos with any type of device whilst you’re in the driving seat of a car sat at traffic lights. As a driver you need to be attentive at all times and able to respond to the ever-changing road conditions.
However after the penalty points for using a mobile phone doubled police officers were sent out on a zero tolerance mission but in our opinion without the requisite refresher training or appropriate understanding of the legislation. Every element of a mobile phone offence has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt by the prosecution.
There is no reversal of the burden of proof.
A defendant does not have to prove that they weren’t using the phone for an interactive telecommunication purpose, the prosecution have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they were.
If you’ve been accused in similar circumstances then send us an email or if you have a court hearing call in for a free advice call…