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Using a mobile phone whilst driving

Case law – Director Of Public Prosecutions v Barreto

This is an appeal by way of case stated from a decision of the Crown Court sitting at Isleworth quashing the respondent’s conviction for driving a motor vehicle while using a hand-held mobile telephone, contrary to Section 41D of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and Regulation 110 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986.

The alleged offence took place on 19th August 2017. The respondent had been convicted after a trial in the Magistrates’ Court on 20th July 2018. His appeal was allowed on 15 th October 2018.

In summary: the respondent was seen filming an accident scene as he drove past it. He was using the camera on his mobile phone to do so. The question in this case is whether the filming constituted a breach of the regulations. It is the appellant’s case that the regulation prohibits all use of a mobile phone while driving. It is the respondent’s case that the regulations are directed only to the use of phones and other devices for the purposes of interactive communication.

Held: The legislation does not prohibit all use of a mobile phone held while driving. It prohibits driving while using a mobile phone or other device for calls and other interactive communication (and holding it at some stage during that process).

Interactive communication examples were provided as follows:

(i) sending or receiving oral or written messages;

(ii) sending or receiving facsimile documents;

(iii) sending or receiving still or moving images; and

(iv) providing access to the internet…”

The court were at pains however to point out this does not give a green light for people to make films as they drive.

For advice on motoring matters please contact the office for expert advice.