Drivers in England, Scotland and Wales caught using a mobile phone for the first time will automatically receive penalty points, under government plans due to come into force next year.
All licences will now be endorsed for mobile phone offences
Previously, most Police Forces gave first time offenders the option of going on a Course instead of having points endorsed on their licence.
Recent cases where serious injury has resulted from drivers using their phones (including that of Tomasz Kroker who was jailed in October having killed a mother & 3 children) have increased the pressure on the Government to take action. As a result, the government announced in September this year that it was going to increase fines and double penalty points.
It is intended that fines for these offences will rise from £100 to £200 and the penalty points from three to six.
The scrapping of the driving course option is among several measures announced in a government response to a consultation on punishments for drivers caught using hand-held phones.
Some ministers believe this is not a tough enough measure to deter people from using a hand-held phone while driving.
Fine numbers plummet
The number of fines issued for motorists caught using a mobile phone illegally has plummeted by 84% since 2011. Statistics released by the Home Office show that some 16,900 drivers were handed fixed-penalty notices in England and Wales last year, compared with 123,100 in 2011. Some people blame this on a reduction in the number of Police Officers designated for duties on our roads & motorways. Department for Transport figures show that a driver being impaired or distracted by their phone had been a contributory factor in 440 accidents in Britain last year, including 22 which were fatal and 75 classed as serious.
Frank Rogers Head of the Driving Offence Team at Brown Turner Ross commented
"This comes as no surprise as there have been a number of recent high profile cases widely reported by the media where death or serious injury has resulted from people using hand held devices while driving. I appear in Courts all over England & Wales & many Magistrates express frustration that they can only endorse a licence with 3 Points for this offence. Having said that, a business client of mine recently walked out of a court in North Wales having been convicted for the 5th time of driving while using his phone - he therefore had 15 points on his licence and was not disqualified for 6 months under the totting up procedure as the Magistrates accepted my argument that exceptional hardship would result if he was banned.
This should see sales of hands free devices soar as anyone who has 6 points endorsed on their licence is close to the threshold figure of 12 when (subject to the exceptional hardship issue) they face an automatic 6 month driving ban. We have had clients charged with this offence for even looking at their phone and having it on speaker phone while holding it. The only solution is to be hands free or pull over and stop the vehicle if you need to use your phone."
If you are facing prosecution for any driving offence call Frank for Free initial advice on 0800 195 7517