A loophole concerning using mobile phones whilst driving will soon be closed. It was recently discovered after a driver successfully appealed a charge in court.
A loophole in the current laws surrounding mobile phone usage at the wheel has been discovered. A driver has managed to successfully appeal his charge by arguing that he “wasn’t using it to communicate.” Ramsey Barreto claims that he was using his phone to record a car accident in North London back in 2017. Whilst the penalties for using a phone whilst driving have gotten tougher, the nature of laws have remained largely untouched for 16 years. In comparison to devices from back then, modern smart phones have an enormous amount of functions and utilities. During Mr Barreto’s case, the court agreed that the law hadn’t caught up with the advancement of technology.
Despite the ultimate verdict of the case, the law firm that defended Mr Barreto has challenged the description of the situation as a ‘loophole.’ Emma Patterson, a lawyer, told the BBC that “the danger of the judgement is people will look at a headline and see the offence of using a mobile phone has changed”. She added, “the judge makes it absolutely clear that you could still be prosecuted for driving without due care or dangerous driving, which carry potentially far higher punishments.” Ms Patterson also sought to remind people that, despite the ‘loophole’, drivers could still be successfully charged if they’re found to have driven without due care and attention. For instance, it’s been suggested that using a car’s infotainment system, then being in an accident, could warrant such a charge.
Whilst the actual laws in the UK surrounding mobile phone usage haven’t changed, penalties have. From March 2017, the consequences of being caught were significantly raised. For instance, you’ll be instantly landed with 6 penalty points on your license; that’s enough to disqualify a new driver. You’ll also be fined £200. Depending upon the severity of the case, you can also be taken to court. Should this happen, fines are capped at £1,000. Drivers of buses and HGVs can face higher fines of up to £2,500. The same penalties apply to drivers who choose to hold or interact with their sat-navs. Exceptions aren’t made for being stuck in traffic or stopped at traffic lights; if your engine is running and you’re on a public road, you can be charged.
If you find yourself tempted by your mobile phone whilst driving, invest in a hands-free kit or put it somewhere inaccessible (like the glove box). Wait until you’re parked up before taking a call or answering a text. Lives are lost every year because people drive whilst using their mobile phones.
Using Your Phone At The Wheel? New Signs Will Catch You Out – https://autoserve.co.uk/motoring-news/using-phone-driving/
The Price of Progress: Is In-Car Tech Really Killing Drivers? – https://www.autoserveclub.co.uk/blog/the-price-of-progress-is-in-car-tech-really-killing-drivers/