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Jail for phoning whilst driving?


“Drivers may face jail for using their mobile phones when driving if tough new measures announced by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) are introduced” says Tony Barnfather, a Partner with Manchester law firm Pannone. Commenting further he said, “All drivers should be aware of changes to prosecution policies when they are finalised and although an exact date has not been announced, the CPS has released details of changes they intend to make as from autumn 2007.”

Tougher stance

The existing law remains unchanged and the correct use of legally compliant handsfree equipment will still be permitted. However, amongst the key changes is a tougher stance in relation to the prosecution of motorists who use their mobile phone whilst driving. Although it appears that the separate offence of using a mobile phone whilst driving will remain, the CPS has made clear that the starting point for their decision as to which offence drivers who use mobile phones whilst driving should be charged will be the offence of dangerous driving “where there is clear evidence that danger has been caused by its use”. The CPS statement cites texting whilst driving as an example of when it will regard this threshold to be crossed and it is anticipated that the CPS will take the view that danger is caused by the use of mobile phones whilst driving in the majority of cases.

Driving whilst using a mobile phone is currently usually dealt with by way of a fixed penalty notice of £60 or by a fine of up to £1,000 (or up to £2,500 for drivers of goods vehicles, buses or coaches) if the matter proceeds to court.

Two year sentence and disqualification

Added Tony Barnfather “The offence of dangerous driving carries a potential prison sentence of up to two years and/or an unlimited fine. Those convicted will also be disqualified from driving for at least twelve months.

It is clear that the CPS is attempting to build on previous high-profile campaigns and respond to public opinion by sending a message to all drivers that the use of a mobile phone whilst driving is not acceptable and will be prosecuted vigorously.

Although all drivers will clearly be affected, anyone whose employment and/or business depends upon being able to drive should ensure that they and all those within their organisation are aware of these significant changes.”


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