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“What is the law about using a mobile phone and driving in Scotland?”

In this article we set out some of the things you need to know. Ltd set up the first Specialist Road Traffic Law Firm in Scotland and they know the legal answers to your  questions about the law in Scotland.


We all know that texting and making calls on your mobile phone while driving is illegal and that since last year you can be wacked with an almighty 6 penalty points and £200 fine for it but when the car isn’t even moving or you are just going through a drive through for your early morning coffee or a Big Mac?

We know of police officers targeting drivers who were going through Drive throughs so don’t think you are safe just because you are going slow and driving through MacDonald’s or Starbucks etc- Although these places might not be seen by you as a public road they are public places and since the public have access the court will rule that you have committed a CU80 or Mobile Phone offence if caught using your phone there.

But was is defined as use of a mobile phone? What is the actual definition of the law in Scotland regarding using a Mobile Phone When Driving?

The definition of a CU80 driving law is contained within Section 41D of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and said to be “the driving of a motor vehicle while using a hand-held mobile telephone or other hand-held interactive communication device.”

For these purposes;

  • Hand-held device – is something that “is or must be held at some point during the course of making or receiving a call or performing any other interactive communication function”.
  • Using a Device – “similar” to a mobile phone, where it performs an ‘interactive communication’ function by transmitting and receiving data.

There can be a defence open to mobile phone use in certain situations; eg It is not an offence to use hands free equipment, and you can make a 999/112 call in a genuine emergency, provided it is unsafe or impractical for you to stop first.

If stopped for a CU80 driving offence, you will be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) which is an offer of 6 Penalty Points and £200 fine. In order to find someone guilty of this offence the Procurator Fiscal must prove beyond reasonable doubt that a mobile phone was held at some point during the course of making or receiving a call or any other form of interactive communication. If you are found guilty your license will be endorsed with 6 Penalty Points and you will receive a fine (This can be anything up to £1,000; however it is seldom less than £200).

The offence relates to ‘using’ a mobile phone or handheld device (as specified by the act).

Physical interaction with it will be ‘using it” as far as investigating police officers are concerned but what if you were turning it off? Would it be appropriate for the court to interpret the law as meaning that even that is “use”?

Officers will also consider the alternative offences of not having proper control over a vehicle and driving without due care and attention.Road Safety is the key concern for any road traffic police officer and if they reckon the use of your phone has caused you to drop the road safety ball then you can expect to be charged.

Drivers can easily lose their licence if using a hand held phone in their vehicles as drivers often have accumulated 6 or more points over a three year period. You need to remember  that the Totting Up procedures regarding driving offences run from date of offence to date of offence.Therefore if a driver has 6 live penalty points on their licence when pulled over by the police they should seek the advice of a road traffic law specialist. These cases can be won-check Social Media for reputation of law firms and check Trust Pilot for independent reviews. Drivers caught using their phones need to consider carefully how to handle the matter as the repercussions can be enormous and long term with job loss etc. Evene the impact on future insurance can be pretty heavy.

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