How to stay on track

Driving laws help keep you and others safe. Some driving offences won't land you in court, but others will.

New driving laws came into force in March. Every driver should know about them.

Three facts about the legal driving seat

1. Using your mobile phone

It is against the law to use a handheld mobile phone while you drive. If you get caught, you will incur six penalty points and pay a £200 fine. New drivers will lose their licence.

If you end up in court, you could be fined up to £1,000. Drivers of buses or goods vehicles can be fined up to £2,500.

The same penalties apply to using a handheld phone in standing traffic, at traffic lights or while parked up with your car's engine running.  

2. Using your smart phone as a sat nav

Many of us rely on Google Maps on our smart phones to navigate.

You can still use your smart phone as a sat nav, as long as you:

  • set it up before your journey
  • do not touch it while driving
  • place it in a holder correctly.

If you need to touch your phone – to change your route, for example – stop in a safe place first and turn off the engine.

You could be charged with careless driving if you let your sat nav distract you. 

3. Car seats

We all want children to be safe. Children must use the correct type of car booster seat until they are 12 years old or 135cm tall.

If you are about to buy a booster seat, make sure you choose the best one.

New laws mean that backless booster seats first brought to market on or after 1 March 2017 can only be used by children who are taller than 125cm and weigh more than 22kg.

So, while you can legally keep on using backless booster seats you already own, it's worth bearing in mind that many experts say backless booster seats are not safe for younger children.  High-backed booster seats are a safer option.

If you are charged for a motoring offence and you aren't sure what to do, think about seeking legal advice.

Blue pattern

Your Comments

William Wood says:

Wed, 03/29/2017 - 23:27
So glad they are clamping down on the use of mobile phones whilst driving,maybe imposing a 3 month driving ban if caught and having to pass an exam on the dangers.

Denis allan says:

Thu, 03/30/2017 - 07:11
Presumably fiddling with ur built in satnav is also illegal,
As will be retuning ur radio, smoking, putting lippey on using mirror,

Seemaab Naseem says:

Thu, 03/30/2017 - 17:48

In reply to by Denis allan


There's some interesting information about what is and isn't legal on the RAC website.


T. Roper says:

Thu, 03/30/2017 - 23:20

In reply to by Denis allan

Denis Allan yes tuning a radio would be distracting applying lipstick the same but where the hell does smoking come in ??this is a typical comment from anyone smoker again , I smoke when on my own and that keeps me calm from the idiots on the road, your prob one of them judging by your comment

David Gains says:

Thu, 03/30/2017 - 09:04
Agree on all three accounts!!!

R.Dorian says:

Sat, 04/01/2017 - 01:01
Holding a conversation with a passenger can be as distracting as on a phone ,especially when they keep turning to look at them and not keeping their eyes on the road.

Terry Spencer says:

Sat, 04/08/2017 - 14:06

In reply to by R.Dorian

Talking to a passenger is almost as distracting as using a mobile, yet some people want to penalise drivers if they do not have apassenger.

Terence newton says:

Sun, 04/02/2017 - 00:28
they should make it an instant 3 month ban... people might think twice before using that phone !.

Brian stabb says:

Sun, 04/02/2017 - 08:14
Can a car not fitted with a device that disables a phone the moment the engine is switsched on, if you need to use it in an emergency you must stop the car safely, unless yo have had an accident, in which case you will be stopped, same goes for driver using it alone as a sat nav?

Ice Walker says:

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 21:23

In reply to by Brian stabb

Built in blue tooth means you don't need to get your phone out of your pocket or handbag and can answer it as simply as turning the radio on. no different to talking to someone in the car. So a lot of the arguments don't apply.

Steve says:

Sun, 04/02/2017 - 20:27
How is it safe to light a cigarette whilst you are driving but it's not OK to use your satnav/phone?

Steve Roberts says:

Tue, 04/18/2017 - 12:03

In reply to by Steve

There is an offence of "Not being in a position to exercise proper control of the vehicle". If lighting a cigarette affects your driving in any way, this would apply.

Michael Graham says:

Sun, 04/30/2017 - 18:07

In reply to by Steve

Smoking, eating etc., while driving, are all offences as it will be deemed you are not in proper control of the vehicle.

Chris Cornwell says:

Mon, 04/03/2017 - 09:13
Despite the tougher penalties and all the publicity it appears that a very large number of drivers are not listening. Only yesterday I counted four people in a half mile drive using a mobile. Last week I was followed by a large articulated lorry fully laden for 5 miles on an A road then about 3 miles on the M4 .The driver was using a mobile held in his right hand all that way, steering with his left hand only.

Henry potter says:

Mon, 04/03/2017 - 23:56
Still OK to use my hand held CB microphone and change channels on the radio transmitter. YooHoo!!!!!

M Graystone says:

Tue, 04/04/2017 - 09:50
I agree with all except if you have the since to pull over to take or make a call why turn your engine off you'll might need to keep the heater on or air con especially if carrying kids or dogs it's PC gone mad!

Steve Roberts says:

Tue, 04/04/2017 - 10:56
Just a question, normally the R.T. Acts apply when a vehicle is on a road. If the vehicle is off the road, say for example in Tesco's car park, are you committing an offence if you are on the phone with the engine running. Likewise, if you pull off the road into a separated lay by?

Patrick Seaman says:

Sat, 04/15/2017 - 00:41

In reply to by Steve Roberts

I think that you will find that the rules of the road also apply in car parks these days. It changed quite a long time ago.

howard says:

Sun, 04/16/2017 - 08:57

In reply to by Steve Roberts

although shopping centre parking areas are private property, they are for use by the public, so using your phone etc is illegal, unless you are correctly parked, the engine of your vehicle is switched off and the keys are out of the ignition. I read an article which had a response from the police in Manchester. it was concerning paying for your order at a macdonalds drive thru'. they allow customers to pay using an app in their smart phone. the legal requirement is that the engine is off and the key is out of the ignition, otherwise an offence is being committed and the police can charge you.

Ian McCondochie says:

Wed, 04/05/2017 - 09:01
If caught being used , mobile phones should be immediately confiscated

frank pengilly says:

Fri, 04/07/2017 - 20:13
Why dont we just ban driving .

sally says:

Thu, 04/20/2017 - 17:26

In reply to by frank pengilly

Many disabled people need cars to live a life. Many people have lousy public transport where they live. It is not as simple as you imagine.

Taff says:

Wed, 04/26/2017 - 00:41

In reply to by frank pengilly

Let's ban people. They're the route cause of all these problems.


Sat, 04/08/2017 - 11:13
Just need some people to enforce it!

Barry Seagrave says:

Sat, 04/08/2017 - 13:58
So can the police still drive one handed and use their two way radio's?

Peter Robinson says:

Sun, 04/09/2017 - 23:05
Ok I agree about not using a mobile while driving does this apply to two radios if so the Police are stuffed as they would not be able to use theirs. Will be interesting to see any comments on that.
I know you not allowed to eat while driving but I haven`t seen anywhere about smoking the only thing was about not smoking with minors in the car. The number of times you follow a car in traffic and suddenly a plume of thick vapour from E cigs comes out of a car I think they are worse than normal fags. I don`t smoke now gave up 37 years ago

P Gleaves says:

Mon, 04/10/2017 - 20:44
I think they should make the law more stiffer for using hand held phones,28 day ban,smash phone in front of the person using it,impound car have to pay fine of £1000 after 28 days to get car back. I would say that would cut the use of most people from using there mobile phone's.

Mr R R Murch says:

Tue, 04/11/2017 - 08:57
My suggestion is to stop
smoking in car's when driving

Robin Arthur Holland says:

Tue, 04/11/2017 - 17:54
All vehicles could be fitted with a unit that stopped the engine when using a mobile. CB units are classed as radios, same rules apply. I suggest that if you see someone using a phone take a photo of driver and car and give to a police officer. I do

Graham Evans says:

Fri, 04/14/2017 - 08:35

In reply to by Robin Arthur Holland

so your advising people to break the law by using their fone as a camera while driving....brilliant idea

Seemaab Naseem says:

Thu, 04/20/2017 - 12:22

In reply to by Graham Evans

I believe the previous comment was suggesting to take a picture of the driver using their phone only if it's safe and legal to do so i.e. when not driving yourself.

Sid says:

Wed, 04/12/2017 - 13:08
Who is going to police the police they use there phones and radio's while they are driving they are made of the same stuff as us but you never see them getting caught one rule for one and another rule for others.

Stig says:

Thu, 04/13/2017 - 00:18
As I've said elsewhere, it can't be beyond the wit of man to devise a mobile phone jammer that is active while the engine is running. Just needs to interfere with the signal inside the car. Then make it compulsory in all cars and an MOT failure if it doesn't work. I'd have to change the satnav in my campervan though, since that uses the mobile phone network to download the route, so that it can warn of traffic holdups and other problems.

Dominic McGuinness says:

Sat, 04/15/2017 - 09:16
What about spectacle wearers, not having clean lenses. Something I always check before getting into the car

Trevor Baines says:

Fri, 04/21/2017 - 17:32

In reply to by Dominic McGuinness

What about people who should wear glasses while driving but won't wear them through vanity ?

caz says:

Sat, 04/15/2017 - 18:32
With all the comments about putting a jammer in the car that turns off the mobile while the engine is running, suggestes that there must be a lot of Billy-no-mates out there that never have a passenger in their car that just might want to use their phone while you do the boring bit of driving!

john D says:

Sun, 04/16/2017 - 14:32
jamming signals is against the law.
a while back I seen a post from the police regarding a spate of people in one area being pulled over by bogus cops and they stated if someone is trying to make you pull over to call 999 and keep going until it is confirmed.
can you also guarantee that no passenger in a vehicle ever needs to make an emergency call and if they did but could not do it you would take personal responsibility for any loss of life or other problems caused.
in the earlier days of mobile phones I have come across an accident with people trapped on a series of bends on a country road, I could not call for help from there because of no signal and had to leave them to make the call

mick barrett says:

Mon, 04/17/2017 - 20:06
These new Laws are very good but the many causes of motorway accidents are by bad driving and lane Hogging for over 20 years i have watched people coming onto motorways just pushing out not adjusting there speed to join in also the people who just sit in the middle lane ,there should be a Law that everybody with a full driving license should be taught driving on motorways.

Keith Slattery says:

Fri, 04/21/2017 - 13:20
Anyone using a mobile phone while driving for any reason should have their cars confiscated and crushed along with a minimum 5year ban.The use of such devices would cease immediately and make the roads a lot safer,and as many of the users are driving company cars it would have great financial lmpact on the perpetrators.

howie the one says:

Sat, 04/22/2017 - 16:54
Just imagine dropping a mars in your lap compared to dropping a filthy burning fag,
Sat nav...say if whilst driving down the m/way a message comes up "incident ahead, would you like to change route" and you can't touch the sat nav to change route..", do you pull over onto the hard shoulder?

Darren Robbins says:

Thu, 04/27/2017 - 03:02
Not sure why this law regarding phones also stretches to stationary cars. You are not going to cause an accident if you have pulled ove to take or make A call as long as you stop in a safe place. In fact shouldn't this be encouraged?

Geoffrey Turner says:

Thu, 04/27/2017 - 06:56
There are enough technical devices in cars as it is. One to jam phone signals isn't the answer. Good old driver education and common sense should prevail.As for getting caught using a mobile phone whilst driving, then we should apply the same ruling as drink driving, after all, the consequences of either are the same. They can both cause, and do cause fatalities.

Ian says:

Sun, 04/26/2020 - 12:56
MY WIFE has received a speeding fine 38 in a 30 zone and yes she was over the speed limit but at the time I was hyperglacemic as I am DIABETIC and at the time I was vomiting and as she was on a uphill bank which she could not stop on she did go over the speed limit until she could stop in a safe area so I could take INSULIN but they won't accept the reason in mitigation

Pavitri.Tailor… says:

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 09:11

In reply to by Ian

Hi Ian

Unfortunately, we are not able to provide legal advice on specific situations, but we can sign post.

If you are interested in talking to a solicitor about your rights and next steps, one place to start from might be using the Law Society’s free ‘Find a solicitor’ website. You can search for law firms that specialise in a particular area – for example, motoring offences – and in a certain postcode area.

Many solicitors and law firms will agree to a free initial meeting to discuss some of the key facts about your legal problem, and they can then work out whether they can help you. It is worth asking if they will meet you for free up-front if you contact any law firms.

Hope this is helpful

Legal Choices Team

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