Government plans to close legal loophole that allows drivers who use mobile phones to film or take photographs to escape prosecution

THE government plans to close a legal loophole that has allowed drivers who use mobile phones to film or take photographs to escape prosecution reports the BBC.

It is illegal for drivers to call or text on hand-held phones but some have dodged punishment for taking photos.

In July, a man overturned a conviction for filming a crash, saying he was not using his phone “to communicate”.

The government aims to revise the laws to also include browsing the internet and searching playlists while driving.

It says the current legislation has fallen behind advances in smartphone technology.

Drivers have successfully argued that filming or taking photos while driving does not match the wording in the current legislation – which says it is illegal to use a device “which performs an interactive communication” while driving.

Earlier this year Ramsey Barreto was found guilty of using his phone to film a crash in north London two years ago. However, the 51-year-old then successfully appealed the conviction.

The ruling led two High Court judges to criticise the 16-year-old law on using mobile phones, which they said had failed to evolve with the rise of smartphones.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the urgent review will be carried out to tighten up the existing laws on hand-held mobile use by motorists.

“We recognise that staying in touch with the world while travelling is an essential part of modern day life but we are also committed to making our roads safe,” he added.

The Department for Transport said the review will be carried out “urgently” with further proposals “expected to be in place by next spring”.

The fixed penalty for driving while using a hand-held mobile phone was increased from three penalty points and a £100 fine to six penalty points and a £200 fine in March 2017.

Courts can impose a fine of up to £1,000 for car drivers and £2,500 for HGV and bus drivers, as well as issuing a driving disqualification.
The government said its review would include legislation in Northern Ireland, where road safety policy is a devolved issue.

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