5 October 2016

Penalties for drivers caught using handheld mobile phone set for big increase

Motorists caught using a handheld mobile phone while driving will face tougher penalties, the Department for Transport has suggested.

The government is planning to double the current punishment – a £100 fine and three points on the offender’s licence. What’s more, the potential new minimum fine of £200 could rise to a maximum of £1,000 with offenders also receiving six penalty points.

The new penalty regime, which has yet to be officially confirmed by the department but has been widely reported by national newspapers, also means that new drivers – who can only accumulate six points in the first two years after passing their driving test before being banned – will face the immediate loss of their licence if they are caught using a handheld phone at the wheel.

The penalty increase was revealed as a new RAC study suggested the illegal use of handheld mobile phones was at epidemic proportions, with an estimated 11 million motorists admitting to making or receiving a call while driving in the last 12 months. On top of that, a shocking five million have said they have taken photos or videos while at the wheel of a moving vehicle.

The use of a handheld mobile phone while driving was made a criminal offence on 1 December, 2003 when it was announced that offenders would receive three penalty points on their licence and a £30 fine rising to a maximum of £1,000.

The anticipated increase in penalties for drivers caught using a hand-held mobile phone are expected to be introduced in 2017.

However, if reports are correct, the outcome of the government’s consultation on higher penalties for handheld mobile phone use will be harsher than previously thought. In the consultation document, the government suggested that the minimum fine could increase from £100 to £150 and three points, to four points for non-HGV drivers - and from three to six points for HGV drivers.