Fleet News

Phone use may end in jail term

Drivers caught using a mobile phone while driving could soon face a minimum of two years in prison as prosecutors have announced a raft of changes in the way drivers are charged and prosecuted.

If it is proved that a driver was using a mobile phone, a charge of dangerous driving would be the starting point for prosecutors. Currently, drivers receive a minimum of three penalty points and a £60 fine.

If the accident was a fatality, drivers would face 14 years in prison under the charge of causing death by dangerous driving.

The move follows a public consultation by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and guidance will be issued for prosecutors this autumn.

Sir Ken Macdonald, director of public prosecutions at the CPS, said: “We accept that in cases where there is clear evidence that danger has been caused by their use, such as texting while driving, then our policy should spell out the starting point for charging – dangerous driving.”

Industry groups have backed the proposed changes. A spokeswoman for road safety charity Brake said: “We support the recommendations of a minimum charge of dangerous driving.

“We are also calling for people caught using their mobile phone even when there has not been an accident to incur six points and a £1,000 fine. The message clearly isn’t getting across to people as it is.”

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has also welcomed the proposals.

A spokeswoman said: “Drivers are well aware of the dangers of using a mobile phone behind the wheel and the distraction of a phone conversation poses a significant risk to themselves and other road users. We hope the new proposals will further emphasise to drivers who can not put a phone call before someone’s life that they are driving dangerously.”

CPS changes

  • More detailed guidance for prosecutors on when it is appropriate to charge manslaughter instead of a lesser offence.

  • A charge of dangerous driving will be the starting point for offences of driving while using a mobile phone where there is evidence the danger has been caused by the use of the phone.

  • An improved service to bereaved families with prosecutors meeting families at an early stage to explain the charge and the court process.
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