Merseyside Police have issued a stern warning this week that they will be cracking down on drivers caught using mobile phones.
What is the fuss about mobile phones?
This week of action mirrors campaigns being implemented by other Police Forces. So if you regularly use a hand held device, while driving, to text, make calls or use social media (or in fact for any reason) you are now at added risk of being caught & prosecuted.
This campaign precedes new legislation expected to be introduced by the Government in March this year which will mean that
- the fine for using a hand held device will rise to £200.00 and
- the points to be endorsed on your licence will double to six
This has major implications for those who have not been driving for 2 years since they passed their Test as when "Probationary Drivers" reach 6 Points their licence is revoked.
Police will be on duty in unmarked cars during this campaign throughout Merseyside designed to raise awareness of the dangers of using hand held devices. They are particularly targeting young people with a social media addiction.
Even having the device on your lap and looking down at it while driving could see you prosecuted.
It first became an offence to use a hand held device while driving in December 2003.
Frank Rogers Head of the Driving Offence Team at Brown Turner Ross commented
"This comes as no surprise to those of us who defend people on driving offences all over England & Wales as in some courts this offence has, for some time, been top of the "crimes" magistrates wanted to see subject to higher penalties. Some courts have, however, continued to adopt a strangely lenient approach evidenced by a client of mine who kept his licence despite being convicted for the 5th time in 3 years of using a mobile phone while driving. This lenient approach to this offence, especially when repeated, is not common!
There really is no alternative but to be hands free by whatever means you choose. Nowadays with the ever increasing number of cameras that can trap unsuspecting motorists and more police patrols, the risk of being caught is greater than ever. This makes it easier to get to 12 points when you face a 6 month driving ban unless you can establish "exceptional hardship."
However some Police Forces are unhappy with this change being apllied across the board & feel that Awareness Courses should still be an option for example when someone uses a phone while stationary in a traffic jam - nice to see some vestige of common sense towards a motorist may remain! It will be interesting to see how individual Chief Constables apply the new penalty.
There have been many widely reported fatal accident cases in the last year where drivers have been sent to prison for causing death by dangerous or careless driving where a mobile phone was being used at the time. More information on driving offences is available on the Free Brown Turner Ross App but do not access it if driving unless you are hands free!
You have been warned!"
If you want Free initial advice on any prosecution for a driving offence call our 24/7 help Line on 0800 195 7517