Using a phone while driving - the law
It is illegal to drive a vehicle or ride a motorbike while using a hand-held mobile phone or a similar device like a BlackBerry. It's also illegal to use a hand-held phone when supervising a learner driver or rider.
Hands-free phones can also be a distraction and you'll risk prosecution for not having proper control of your vehicle when using one.
How you could be breaking the law
If, while driving, you pick up or use any type of phone that must be held you will be breaking the law.
This means you should not use your mobile phone:
- when you are stopped at traffic lights
- when you are queuing in traffic
- to make or receive calls
- to send or receive picture and text messages
- to access the internet
Using other devices for sending or receiving data whilst driving is also an offence. That includes BlackBerries and Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) if they have a mobile phone built in.
If you are an employer, you can be prosecuted if you ask employees to make or receive calls while driving.
Calling someone when they're driving
Callers play an important role. If you ring someone on their mobile phone who turns out to be driving when they answer, say you'll call them later and hang up.
Using a hand-held phone in your vehicle
You can only use your mobile phone in a vehicle:
- to call 999 or 112 in response to a genuine emergency where it is unsafe or impracticable to stop
- if you are safely parked
- if you are a passenger
Penalties for using your phone while driving
In Northern Ireland if you're caught using a hand-held mobile phone or similar device while driving or riding, you'll get an automatic fixed penalty notice - three penalty points and a fine of £60.
If your case goes to court, you may face disqualification on top of a maximum fine of £1,000. Drivers of buses and goods vehicles face a maximum fine of £2,500.
If you reach six or more points within two years of passing your test, your licence will be taken off you. You'll need to re-sit your driving test to get your licence back.