This short paper briefly summarises the introduction of a new offence in 2003 for driving whilst using a hand-held mobile phone or similar device, changes made to the penalties since then, future plans for further changes, and how effective the offence has been. It also sets out charging policy in this general area and briefly addresses the question of using a mobile phone while cycling.Jump to full report >>
Since 1 December 2003 it has been an offence to drive a motor vehicle on a road while using a hand-held mobile telephone or similar device. Since February 2007 this has been an endorseable offence, punishable with 3 penalty points on the licence and a £60 Fixed Penalty, increased to £100 in 2013. The Government plans to increase this to a £200 Fixed Penalty and 6 points.
While an offence in itself, it can also be a contributory factor in the charging of other offences such as careless and dangerous driving and, in the most serious cases where death occurs, causing death by careless or dangerous driving. As the justice system is devolved in Scotland, the information herein relating to charging policy relates to England and Wales only.
There have been concerns in recent years that the enforcement of this offence is not sufficiently robust as official figures have shown a sharp decline in the number of Fixed Penalties issued.
Separate Commons Library briefing papers are available on driving while under the influence of drugs (SN2884), drink driving (SN788) and other serious traffic offences (SN1496). Information on other roads-related issues can be found on the Roads Topical Page of the Parliament website.