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Texting While Driving Offences: Police to Seize Mobiles After Crashes

Texting While Driving Offences: Police to Seize Mobiles After Crashes

As part of a police crackdown aimed at reducing the number of deaths caused by calling or texting while driving, drivers involved in crashes will have their mobile phone seized after crashes. Under the new guidance, issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers, officers will check the confiscated phones for evidence that the motorist broke the law by allowing themselves to be distracted by their handheld device. The phone checks will apply to any accident. Previously, such stringent checks were only made when a collision resulted in someone being killed or being seriously injured.

Strong message sent out for driving offences

More than 500 people are thought to be killed or seriously injured every year because drivers were texting, emailing, or posting on social media websites, leading to increasing pressure on the Government to do more to stop drivers using phones at the wheel.

Motoring and safety organisations welcomed the change. “More systematic checking of drivers’ phone records after a crash would… send out a message that police are taking this matter seriously and people who flout the law will be caught,” Professor Stephen Glaister, from the RAC Foundation declared.

Edmund King, the president of the AA, said that drivers do not realise their mobile phone records provide an ‘incriminating track’ of what they were doing. “The current deterrent just isn’t working. Many drivers seem addicted to their phones and just can’t resist looking at a text or tweet at the wheel. We need a concerted effort to crack this addiction with harsher penalties linked to an information and enforcement campaign.”

Points for mobile use could be doubled

The crackdown, which is part of the Government’s new hard-line on the use mobiles at the wheel, could also see the penalty for using a mobile phone while driving doubled, after the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin backed calls from Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, for offenders to be handed six points on their licence rather than the present three.

“The amounts of casualties there have been are absolutely appalling and the person who is using their phone doesn’t realise the damage or the danger,” Mr McLoughlin stated. A spokesman for the Department of Transport added: “Using a mobile phone while driving is extremely dangerous which is why we are considering a number of options to deter drivers.”

Critics of the plan have expressed concerns around whether the police will always show common sense when confiscating phones, warning that drivers could use their phone after a “minor car park shunt”.

Mobile phone offences and penalty points

Caroline Dunne, road traffic offences solicior at IBB Solicitors, comments:

Under such proposals those who have been driving for less than 2 years could see their licences revoked. The current provisions regarding penalty points provide that those who acquire 6 points on their licences within 2 years of passing their test will have their licence revoked requiring them to re-take the test. Those who have passed their test for more than 2 years face a minimum 6 month period of disqualification if they acquire 12 or more points in a 3 year period.

However a full history of the level of usage of a handheld device could be relied upon by prosecutors to show a driver was driving carelessly or dangerously by being distracted by the device at the time of an accident. This would enable prosecutions for death by careless driving or dangerous driving to be pursued the penalties for which are far greater than penalty points and would carry the risk of imprisonment.

Could a road traffic and mobile phone offences solicitor help prevent penalty points and / or a driving disqualification (i.e. your license being revoked)?

It is advisable to seek legal advice if you are facing charges relating to mobile phone use while driving. Using a mobile phone whilst driving decreases your awareness and response time and it is possible that you could also be charged with other, more serious offences such as careless driving or dangerous driving. Penalties for these offences, especially if an accident occurs, can be far higher.

At IBB Solicitors we have solicitors who specialise in road traffic law and advise individuals and employers facing charges relating to mobile phone use. Our goal is to help you understand the charges, advance any defence and support you if you go to court.

Call us on 01895 207928 during office hours or on 0330 999 4999 at any other time if you are charged with a mobile phone offence or email us on criminaldefence@ibblaw.co.uk .