Mobile Phone Offences
It is an offence to use a handheld mobile phone whilst driving a motor vehicle and the law has created a specific offence to cover this exact situation. More serious charges can result where it is alleged that use of a mobile phone resulted in a loss of proper control of the vehicle or danger. Should that happen, charges under careless driving or dangerous driving may be brought along with their increased penalties which could result in disqualification. Even the use of hands-free devices can result in prosecution under careless or dangerous driving if the use of such a device causes a driver to drive in a poor manner.
Charges can also be brought against an employer if it is established that they are allowing or requiring their employees to answer a phone while driving. It is also an offence for a supervisor of a learner driver to use a handheld mobile phone while the learner is driving.
If convicted of driving while using a mobile phone, the court can impose 6 penalty points and a fine. A discretionary disqualification and fine can also be imposed if the court deem the use of mobile phone in the circumstances are sufficiently serious.
To secure a conviction, there are three essential elements that must be proved by the prosecution:
- The mobile phone must be held by the driver in his hand.
- A mobile phone is treated as being handheld if it is physically held at any point during its use.
- The driver must be using the mobile phone.
- The driver must be driving the vehicle.
Even if a driver is stationary in traffic he is still regarded as driving as he remains in control of the movement and direction of the vehicle. A very wide interpretation has been employed by the prosecution and followed by the courts in deciding what amounts to using a mobile phone while driving. In almost all cases, the prosecution will rely on the evidence of two police officers. As it is the driver’s word against theirs, these types of cases require the experience of a lawyer who knows what they are doing.
Defences to driving whilst using a mobile phone
It is a defence to a charge of using a mobile phone while driving that the call is to an emergency service, if the caller is acting in response to a genuine emergency and that it was unsafe or impractical to cease the driving in order to make the call. Most defences, however, are based on a denial that a mobile phone was being used while driving. In support of such a position, phone records can be obtained to show that there were no incoming or outgoing calls or texts. Defence evidence is crucial in these scenarios and to cast doubt on the Crown case you require a solicitor who is experienced in cross examination to undermine the prosecution case.
If you have been charged in relation to driving whilst using a mobile phone within the Highlands and Islands, contact our office for advice on your options in defending this charge.