The impact of fixed penalties for using phones while driving

While using a mobile phone while driving has been illegal for 15 years, the consequences of being caught doing so became more severe on 1st March 2017, with the introduction of new fixed penalty notices (FPNs).

What constitutes using a phone while driving? Well, all aspects of mobile usage apply, including:

  • Texting
  • Talking
  • Using your phone at traffic lights, or when you’re stuck in traffic


When can you use a mobile phone while driving?

You can use your phone when your vehicle is safely parked, or if you need to call 999/112 in an emergency.

What about hands-free devices? While they’re not illegal, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents strongly advises against using hands-free devices while driving. The risks aren’t really reduced, as it’s the distracted driving and divided attention that causes problems.


What is the penalty for using a phone while driving?

If you’re caught using your mobile phone while driving, you can get six penalty points on your driving licence and a £200 fine.

This is double the previous penalty of three points and a £100 fine. For new drivers, it’s important to remember that you’ll lose your licence if you receive six penalty points within two years of passing your test.

Even for more experienced drivers, receiving 12 points in a three-year period can also result in having your licence revoked, which is just two instances of replying to a message, or taking a call.

There are also more severe consequences if your mobile phone use is found to be particularly dangerous by the police, including:

  • A driving ban
  • A maximum fine of £1,000 (this increases to £2,500 if you’re driving a bus or lorry)


How would receiving an FPN affect my insurance?

If you were to receive penalty points as a result of being caught using your mobile phone while driving, insurers would consider you to be higher risk, as they would with any type of motoring conviction. This could mean the cost of your car insurance quote is higher.


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