Getting distracted while driving is as dangerous as driving while intoxicated, causing numerous collisions annually that can be avoided with just a drop of precaution.  

Did you know? You’re four times more likely to cause an accident when using a hand-held mobile device.

That’s why UK law prohibits using hand-held devices while driving for any reason except to call 999 for an emergency. Let’s dive into the rules and consequences of handling your phone while driving to better understand what you can and can’t do.  

What is the law on using a mobile phone in the car?

As of 2022, holding and using a phone or any other electronic device that can send or receive data while driving is illegal. That refers specifically to using the device with your hands, whether online, offline or flight mode.  

IMPORTANT: You can use your phone to call 999 or 112 in an emergency when it’s not safe or practical to stop.    

The first law that banned the use of mobile phones while driving was introduced in 2003, covering only the use of hand-held devices for interactive communication (calling, messaging, accessing the internet). 

This law was changed in 2022 to keep up with the development of mobile phone technology, making using your hand-held device illegal for any reason. 

Can I use my phone if my car isn’t moving?

It depends. If your car isn’t moving, but you’re still in traffic, stopped at a traffic light or queuing, using your phone is still illegal.  You can use your phone if you’re safely parked or use your device to park your car remotely.  

Can I use my phone to pay at a gas station or drive-through?

Yes. At a fuel station or a fast food drive through, you’re parked, and there’s very little chance of causing accident or injury, so you can use your phone to pay here.  

Can I use my phone hands-free while driving?

Yes, as long as your phone is attached to a car phone holder. You can also use a Bluetooth headset or the car’s built-in technology — sat nav, voice command, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. 

Can I touch my phone in a cradle while driving?

Yes. If your phone is attached to your windscreen, dash or air vent, using a cradle, then it’s legal to use it, as long as you don’t hold it while driving.  

IMPORTANT: You can get penalty points if your hands-free device blocks your view of the road and traffic ahead. 

Can I use my phone as an Uber driver?

There are no law exemptions for Uber drivers. Even if accessing the phone is a very big part of their job, they can use their phone with hands-free access, just like other drivers.

Most Uber drivers use car phone holders, Bluetooth headsets or the car’s voice command to check the Uber app, make phone calls or use sat-nav. 

How can I be detected using my mobile phone while driving?

Advanced tech cameras on the road can identify mobiles in hand through windscreen from above, which a human operator then verifies. During a six-month pilot project in 2021, these cameras recorded 15,000 drivers handling their mobile phones while driving. It’s very likely this technology will get adopted across the entire country shortly.  

What are the penalties for using a mobile phone while driving?

You get six penalty points and a £200 fine if you hold and use a device while driving. You’ll also lose your licence if you passed your driving test in the last two years.  

You can also get three penalty points if you don’t have a full view of the road and traffic or proper control of the vehicle because of a device. 

Can you be banned from driving for using a mobile phone?

If you get caught twice using a device while driving, you acquire 12 penalty points meaning you’re disqualified from driving for minimum six months.  

If you’re involved in a severe collision because of using your mobile device while driving, you can be taken to court, be banned from driving, and get a fine of up to £1,000.  

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