Legal loophole for filming drivers to be closed

Mobile behind the wheel
It is currently illegal for drivers to call or text on a hand-held device whilst behind the wheel - but where would you stand if you were caught taking a photo?

It seems that the current legislation is somewhat out-dated when it comes to using a hand-held device behind the wheel and the government have recently announced plans to update this to reflect the advances in smartphone technology.

The loophole!

To date, drivers caught taking a photograph or filming whilst in charge of a vehicle have been able to successfully argue they have not broke a law, by referring to the wording in the current legislation, which states “it is illegal to use a device which performs an interactive communication while driving.”

In July of this year, Ramsey Barreto was found guilty of using his phone to film a crash in north London. Barreto’s Lawyers managed to successfully appeal on the grounds that he was not using the device to ‘to communicate.’ This decision has been criticised by the High Court, which has led to pressure on Ministers to review the law around driving and mobile phones, which is now 16 years old.

The Government now plans to revise the current law to include taking a photograph or filming, browsing the internet and searching playlists. The Department for Transport said the review will be carried out "urgently" with further proposals "expected to be in place by next Spring".

The changes in legislation are long overdue, Government has taken a proactive step to stem the tide of technology and mobile phone use whilst driving. With an average of 34 deaths a year linked to mobile phone use whilst driving, this action is necessary to not only prevent collisions but more importantly, prevent further loss of life.

Gareth Morgan
Gareth Morgan Driver Behaviour Specialist at Pertemps Driver Training

The Facts! 

Phones behind the wheel - what the current law says:
  • Using a hand-held mobile phone or sat nav while driving is illegal when operating any vehicle (from a motorcycle to a Large Goods Vehicle)
  • The law still applies if you're stopped in traffic or queuing at lights
  • Any hands-free devices should be fully set up before you drive
  • Police still have the power to stop you if they think you have been distracted
 Phones behind the wheel – penalties:
  • You can get 6 penalty points and a £200 fine if you use a hand-held phone when driving. You’ll also lose your licence if you passed your driving test in the last 2 years.
  • You can get 3 penalty points if you don’t have a full view of the road and traffic ahead or proper control of the vehicle.
  • You can also be taken to court where you can:
    • be banned from driving or riding
    • get a maximum fine of £1,000 (£2,500 if you’re driving a lorry or bus)