Driving whilst using a mobile phone

From March 1st 2017 the penalties issued to motorists caught driving whilst using a handheld mobile phone doubled.

Anyone who is caught driving whilst using a handheld mobile device in Cheshire will receive a £200 fine and 6 penalty points on their licence. In addition, offending motorists will no longer be offered the chance to complete the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS) training course as an alternative to receiving points on their licence.

The change could have major ramifications for young drivers, and people who have held their licence for less than two years, as they now face the prospect of having their licence revoked on their first offence.

Frequenty asked questions

Hands free for calling is permitted when used safely, through technology such as Bluetooth and in-car voice activation. However, you must ensure that you are in proper control of your vehicle.

No, under the legislation you cannot use a handheld mobile phone even if you’re stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic. This includes holding and using your mobile to make a call, look at a text or check social media. 

Yes, you can still use your mobile phone for navigation. However, it must be hands free and should be securely mounted in a cradle.

All of the money received from the fines goes directly to the treasury.

As with the previous legislation, motorists will still have the option to attend court to contest the offence. However, if the court rules against the defendant the penalty could be greater.

The legislation applies to mobile phones or other "interactive communications devices”. However, it’s important to remember that driving requires 100% concentration at all times, otherwise you are putting your own life and everybody else's in danger.

If it is deemed that a driver is not in proper control of the vehicle due to a distraction then they can be issued with a TOR (Traffic Offence Report) and will receive 3 penalty points and a £100 fine.

Distractions whilst driving include:

  • Eating and drinking
  • Smoking
  • Manipulating controls in the car (music, heating dials)
  • Reading or writing
  • Leaning over to the other side of the car (to soothe passengers).
  • Inputting details into a sat-nav
  • Use of smart watch

Headphones don’t fall under the mobile phone legislation. Drivers must always be in proper control of their vehicle. Headphones fall under the hands free category as long as the phone it is attached to is in a suitable cradle.

PDA’s don’t fall into mobile phone category. Like in the case of any in car equipment, the driver must be in proper control of their vehicle at all times.

It is an offence to use a hand held mobile phone or an "interactive communications device", but there is an exemption for a two way radio which is designed or adapted -

  • For the purpose of transmitting and receiving spoken messages; and
  • Operates on any frequency other than 880 MHz to 915 MHz, 925 MHz to 960 MHz, 1710 MHz to 1785 MHz, 1805 MHz to 1880 MHz, 1900 MHz to 1980 MHz or 2110 MHz to 2170 MHz.

Ofcom states that you should be transmitting CB in the 27MHz range, if you are, you come within the exception and are OK. The exception was created because so many government and private organisations (e.g. taxis) use 2 way radios.

However, there is strong scientific evidence that any such activity (including fiddling with your CD player etc.) does raise the level of danger so far as accidents are concerned, so it is recommended that you do whatever you can to minimise use of transmitter buttons, tuning devices and volume controls. If something akin to hands free exists it would be a good idea.

Even if the device you are using does not fall within the mobile phone legislation, with or without hands free, if you can't control your vehicle properly or are driving badly, you can be prosecuted for not being in proper control of your vehicle, careless driving or dangerous driving, the latter two offences carry much higher penalties. If you kill someone in an accident caused by phoning or texting or using a CB etc. you can expect a lengthy sentence of imprisonment.

The legislation applies to everyone – including police officers, however there are exemptions in place where police can use their radios as long as they are not handheld and they are securely mounted in the vehicle or on the uniform. At all times they must be in control of the vehicle.

If you witness any offence while on the roads you can report it to the police on 101 and it will be assessed. We are currently updating a website and in the future members of the public will be able to upload videos of people using mobile phones on the Cheshire Police website along with a witness statement. The force will then be able to use this information as evidence to prosecute if appropriate. However it will need to be sent to us as quickly as possible as there is a short period in which we would be able to prosecute for any offences. 

There is an exemption if you are calling 999 in a genuine emergency and of course it must still be safe to do so and not put other people at risk.

It is illegal to use a handheld phone or similar device when supervising a learner driver.