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Drivers face £200 fines and licence points from Friday, March 25 if caught with mobile phone in their hand 'for virtually any reason'

Drivers who are caught with their mobile phone in their hand while driving will face much tougher penalties from today.

Using a hand-held mobile phone for 'virtually any reason' when behind the wheel is now illegal.

Proposals to strengthen the law were first unveiled by the Department for Transport last year after a consultation suggested the majority of the public were in favour of tougher punishments for those driving and using a device at the same time.

Drivers face £200 fixed penalty notices and points if caught
Drivers face £200 fixed penalty notices and points if caught

The new rules, which have now made their way through Parliament, come into force today and mean that anyone with a phone in their hand could face a £200 fixed penalty notice and up to six points on their licence.

Drivers are banned from using their phones to take photos or videos, scroll through music playlists, search for information or play games. And this also extends to vehicles sat at traffic lights or stuck in stationary traffic.

There will be few exemptions to the tough new rules. Motorists using technology on their phone to pay for an item - such as food items at a drive-thru or making a payment at a toll road - will be allowed to do so if the car is stationary while calls to emergency services when there is no option to pull over and turn off the engine will also be permitted.

The new law prevents drivers picking up their phone for 'virtually any reason'
The new law prevents drivers picking up their phone for 'virtually any reason'

Speaking when the move was first unveiled in 2021, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Too many deaths and injuries occur whilst mobile phones are being held.

"By making it easier to prosecute people illegally using their phone at the wheel, we are ensuring the law is brought into the 21st Century while further protecting all road users."

Motoring organisation the AA said it has long been campaigning to make the law relating to hand-held mobile use tougher and welcomes the change.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps

Edmund King, AA president, said: “This is a much needed upgrade of the law to help make our roads safer.

“Mobile phones offer many distractions and this sends a clear message that picking them up to use them will not be tolerated. The law will also become tougher as the use of smart watches, tablets and laptops behind the wheel will apply.

“Drivers will be extremely limited on when they can pick up their phone, mainly to call the emergency services when there was no opportunity to safely pull over and to make contactless payments at drive-thrus. Being sat in a traffic jam or waiting at the lights is not an excuse, we want people to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.”

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