As of 1st March 2017, penalties for using a mobile phone double to six penalty points on your Driving Licence and a £200 fine.
Those caught using their mobile phone twice, or who accrue 12 points on their Driving Licence will face Magistrates' Court disqualification and fines of up to £1,000. Drivers of buses or goods vehicles could get a maximum fine of £2,500.
New drivers of less than two years who obtain six penalty points or more will have their Driving Licence revoked meaning they will have to apply for a new provisional Licence, and take and pass both the practical and theory driving test again. The new law therefore means one offence for a 'New Driver' will result in the revocation of their licence.
The Law - what you need to know
It is illegal to use a handheld mobile phone whilst driving or riding a motorbike. This includes using your phone to follow a map, read a text or check social media. This applies even if you are stopped at traffic lights or in queuing traffic. Chris Brown, Partner at Fosters, commented: "The most common misconception we see from drivers in these situations is that they need to be shown to have been engaged on a call to be guilty of an offence. That is not the case and only advice about the exact circumstances in which the offence occurs can decide what your plea should be."
It is also illegal to use a handheld device whilst supervising a learner driver.
You can only use a handheld mobile phone if you are safely parked or need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it is unsafe or impractical to stop.
Using hands free (e.g for navigation) is not illegal. However, if this distracts you and affects your ability to drive safely, you can still be prosecuted by the Police.
Why have these changes been made?
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling says increasing fixed penalties will be a "strong deterrent", and is needed to make it clear that mobile phone usage can have terrible consequences - figures for 2015 show 22 people were killed and 99 seriously injured in accidents on UK roads where mobile phone use was a contributing factor.