Using a mobile phone while driving

Q: I was waiting at traffic lights in the daytime with my phone to my ear. My friend was with me in the car. A police car drove past me in the opposite direction.

I was talking into my phone at the time, but immediately put it down as he drove past. I then drove off down the road, but the police put their sirens on and pulled me over.

Could I challenge it in court and say my car broke down and I was on the phone for breakdown cover? Or could I say I was on the phone to emergency services, about to call an ambulance for someone I know?

Is there any other way around this? Any help would be much appreciated. I have nine points on my licence and passed my test last year, so can’t receive any more or my licence will be revoked. 

I have nine points on my licence and passed my test last year

A: If you accept you were using and holding the phone, you shouldn’t try to defend it. That’s because to challenge it you’ll need to give evidence on oath at trial, that you weren’t holding and/or using the phone. To say this would be lying, which is perjury (a potentially imprisonable offence!) It’s not worth the risk.

Your best bet will be to plead guilty and focus on sentencing. I am assuming the nine points were before you passed your test? If so, this offence will ‘trigger’ those points and you will be at risk of revocation as a new driver for accumulating six or more points during your two-year probationary period.

If you are revoked, you will have to sit your test again. Your only way to avoid revocation is to ask the court to impose a discretionary ban for the offence, instead of the points. The other risk you have is that if you receive three points, this will take you to 12 and you will then be at risk of a minimum six-month ban from driving.

The way to avoid the lengthy ban will be to put forward an exceptional hardship argument. You will need to show that you and those around you will be caused exceptional hardship if you can’t drive. What effect would a ban have on you? Even if the ban is avoided though, you would still have to sit your test again. 

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FirstCar's legal expert is Emma Patterson, who runs Patterson Law, which specialises in motoring cases. If you've got a legal question, email us at and we'll get Emma to answer it for you. If you need the advice or representation of a great motoring lawyer, you can contact Emma or one of her colleagues, through her website.