Mobile phone driving law: what the new mobile phone law means for drivers- and how much the fines are

The law around driving when using your mobile phone is set to change- this is what it means for drivers.

By Abi Whistance
Friday, 19th November 2021, 9:57 am
Updated Friday, 19th November 2021, 9:58 am

The Government has announced plans to strengthen existing laws surrounding mobile phone usage on the road, making it illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving under nearly every circumstance.

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This is everything you need to know about the new mobile phone driving law. Photo: Getty Images

This is everything you need to know about the new mobile phone driving law.

Why is this different from the old law?

Before today's announcement it was only illegal to text or make a phone call (other than in an emergency) using a hand-held device while driving.

This law did not outline rules regarding drivers using their mobile phones to access social media or play games when commuting.

The new addition to that pre-existing law means that from next year it will also be illegal to take photos or videos, scroll through playlists or play games.

The only real exception to this law is using a hand-held device to make an emergency call or contactless payments.

These 'contactless payments' refer to the need to use your phone to pay at places such as a drive-through restaurant or a road toll, and will only apply when the payment is being made with a card reader.

It will not allow motorists to make general online payments while driving.

Drivers making contactless payments must also be stationary when doing so.

Can I use my phone in traffic jams or when I am stationary?

The short answer is no.

Although using your phone in this way has always been illegal, the new laws will be more precise about the fact that being stationary in traffic counts as driving.

You may be fined for using a hand-held mobile phone at traffic lights or in motorway jams except in very limited circumstances- such as for contactless payments.

How much will the fine for using a phone be?

Anyone caught using their hand-held device while driving will face a £200 fixed penalty notice.

They will also receive a total of six points on their license.

What about hands-free devices?

Drivers will still be allowed to use a device ‘hands-free’ while driving, such as a sat-nav, if it’s secured in a cradle.

They must, however, always take responsibility for their driving and can be charged with an offence if the police find them not to be in proper control of their vehicle.

When does it come into effect?

The law will start being implemented from next year.

The Government plans to revise The Highway Code in that time to explain the new measures clearly to drivers.

Find out more about the new changes to road mobile phone usage on the GOV.UK website.

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