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PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 00:40 
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Drivers risk two years in jail for using their mobile phones

Motorists who use a hand-held mobile phone or fiddle with a satellite-navigation system while driving could be jailed for up to two years.

Prosecutors have said they could be charged with dangerous driving in a dramatically tougher approach to such offences.

Those caught fiddling with an MP3 music player or texting on a mobile at the wheel could also face the charge.

Prosecutions will be brought whenever it is judged that using the equipment posed a danger, such as forcing a car to swerve or causing a distracted motorist to jump a red light.

Those who kill while using a mobile phone will face 14 years behind bars under the charge of causing death by dangerous driving.

Director of Public Prosecutions Ken Macdonald said: "There is widespread public concern about the use of mobile phones and other hand-held electronic equipment while driving.

"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 that the starting point for charging will be dangerous driving."

Motoring groups said the move was a "dramatic" heightening of the seriousness of the offence.

The current offence of careless driving, which applies to those who drive unsafely by using a mobile or equipment such as a satellite-navigation system, carries only a £2,500 fine or community order.

More commonly, drivers are punished for the simple offence of using a mobile while driving which, since February, carries a fine of £60 and three penalty points.

The changes follow a Crown Prosecution Service review of the penalties for "bad driving", which also suggests a charge of manslaughter could be brought in some cases against drivers who kill.

Supporters say that despite fines and penalty points for using a mobile, many drivers still flout the law, sometimes with fatal consequences.

Trinity Taylor, 23, from Aldershot, Hampshire, died in 2005 after lorry driver John Payne ran into her car on the M3 in Basingstoke while using his mobile.

Payne, 31, of Chesham, Buckinghamshire, was jailed for four years.

But Edmund King, of the RAC Foundation, said existing punishments should be properly enforced.

He said: "The message to motorists is clearly that, if you are using a hand-held mobile or satnav, beware because the law is going to clamp down on you."

He added: "If it really is interpreted that using a handheld mobile phone is dangerous driving, that is a dramatic change to what is currently happening.

"Despite the threat of three penalty points, which could be a threat to a person's livelihood, we all see thousands of motorists driving dangerously using mobile phones.

"It is not just about sentencing, it is about enforcement. We ought to look at what is alreadly in law first."

Paul Smith, of campaign group Safe Speed, said careless driving - the current charge - is not an offence that most drivers commit deliberately.

Shifting it to a new category of dangerous driving will therefore have no deterrent effect, he claimed.

Mr Smith said extreme care should be taken when deciding to prosecute a driver.

"You cannot say because someone had a mobile phone they were driving dangerously. There must be evidence they were actually posing a danger to other people."

Under the changes, motorists who cause death on the roads face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Current guidelines say manslaughter is "very rarely appropriate" in road death cases.

But, under reforms being introduced on September 24 this year, a driver who has killed on the roads could be charged with manslaughter as well as causing death by dangerous driving, leaving a jury open to return the lower charge if they find manslaughter has not been proved.

Full guidance due later this year will contain more details of which offences are to be prosecuted more harshly.

Paul Smith
Our scrap speed cameras petition got over 28,000 sigs
The Safe Speed campaign demands a return to intelligent road safety

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 01:11 

Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2005 10:30
Posts: 2053
Location: South Wales (Roving all UK)
Its a double edged sword, yes use the laws we have instead of creating new offences like the mobile phone law but.......

.....there but for the grace of god go any of us.

remember that anyone COULD have an accident and that accident COULD be fatal. with pressure to prosecute and satisfy the 'something must be done' clamour of the tabloids any one of us ...and that means the lurkers and trolls could end up behind bars.

it won't be that unisured and drunked chavs it will be you or be or even peegee.

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