As from the 1st March anyone who is caught driving whilst using a mobile phone will receive a £200 fine and six penalty points on their licence. You will no longer be offered the chance to complete the national driver offender retraining course as an alternative to receiving points on your licence.
If you build up to 6 or more penalty points within 2 years of passing your first driving test you will automatically lose your licence. At this stage you will have to apply and pay for a new provisional licence and pass both theory and practical parts of your driving test again. Sending one single text could cost new drivers their licence.
So can you use your phone when stopped at traffic lights? No, you can’t use your phone when you’re driving or when you’re stopped at traffic lights or in queuing traffic.
You can only use your mobile phone at the wheel when you’re safely parked and the engine is switched off or when you need to call 999 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop.
What about if you have got a hands-free kit? Whilst it’s an offence to be seen using a hand held phone, regardless of whether driving has been affected, this is not the case for hands-free phones however if you’re seen not to be in control of a vehicle whilst using a hands-free phone you can be prosecuted for that offence.
The penalties for ‘not in proper control’ are £100 fine and 3 points, or up to £1,000 (£2,500 if you were driving a bus or a goods vehicle) if it goes to court.
I use my phone as a satnav, is that okay? The law states you must exercise proper control of your vehicle at all times and should not be distracted by maps or ‘screen-based information such as navigation’.