Home > Ask Our Experts > Legal to Use Mobile Phone in Stationary Car with Engine Running?

Legal to Use Mobile Phone in Stationary Car with Engine Running?

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 6 Mar 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Legal To Use Mobile Phone In Stationary Car With Engine Running?

Q.

Is it an offence, punishable by a fixed penalty ticket, to use a mobile phone whilst a vehicle is stationary in a lay-by or at the side of the road with the engine running?

(Mr G McGregor, 22 March 2009)

A.

It is indeed an offence to use a mobile phone whilst a vehicle is stationary in a lay-by or at the side of the road with the engine running, and the important point to note here is 'with the engine running'.

Many people think that 'driving' refers to actually moving along the road in your car - and in most instances, this is the case. However, if you are sat in the driver's seat of a vehicle with the engine running, then you are technically in charge of that vehicle, so the penalties that apply to using a hand held mobile device while 'driving', do apply to you.

This means that even if you are sat in a lay-by, away from the main flow of traffic and you use a hand held mobile, then you open yourself up to prosecution.

The regulations regarding mobile phone use are clear:

As a driver, you must not use a hand held mobile communication device to either text, call, or carry out any other activity that requires connectivity, such as web surfing. If you break these rules and are found to have been doing so, then you are at risk of being given an automatic fine - and this includes using a mobile device while driving - even if you are sat still in a traffic jam or at lights - it is still classed as a specific offence, which will lead to automatic fine and points on your licence.

Currently, the law states that the fixed penalty for using a mobile phone while driving is £60 which rises up to £1000 should the case end up in court. The current points endorsement is 3, although it can be raised if the police feel that you were driving dangerously due to using the device.

Even if the you are speaking on a 'hands free' mobile device, if a police officer deems that your driving is falling below the expected standard, then you may find yourself charged with careless or dangerous driving, which can lead to a fine, between 3-11 points depending on the severity of the offence, the circumstances surrounding it and the decision of a judge, and worst case scenario - disqualification and even a spell in prison.

So the moral of the story is clear - if you pull over, switch your engine OFF before you make or take that call. Then you'll be in the clear.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Please can you publish where the law states that you cannot touch a button on a phone when it is securely held in a holder/cradle/mount. Touching a button on a cradled/mounted device is no different to pressing a button to operate a window.
JJ - 6-Mar-17 @ 1:29 PM
Hi, I was driving home from work along the A14 yesterday evening (1/02/2016) going from Northampton towards the M6 I got caught in some traffic as they are resurfacing the left hand lane on the A14 so two lanes merged into 1 lane, this is between J2 and J1. For the people who have travelled on the A14 before you will know it's a two lane carage way and as I managed to get into the right hand lane, andI stayed there so I wouldn't have to get over again as the two lanes were to merge into 1, as I got further down traffic came to a complete standstill for around 5 minutes, I put my car In neutral and the engine turned off as I have stop/start on my car..... I realised my phone had lit up whilst in a stationary position so I had a look ( whilst stationary and my engine was still turned off) and I look up and I see a Woman in the lane next to me crawling at a very slow pace taking a photo of me whilst driving in control of her car - it was the flash on her phone that caught my attentionshe then pulled in behind me when I eventually started to move (she nearly caused an accident with the way she pulled in behind me) and whilst looking in my rear view mirror I could see her moving behind me with both hands on top of her steering wheel taking photos of my number plate - she then passes her phone to the passenger who continues to take photos of my car. I have a feeling she's going to try and send these photos to the police but who is in the wrong?
Stuart - 2-Feb-17 @ 2:39 PM
To Jenna, If you were in a private car park, how can it be illegal??
Lucysmum - 26-Jan-17 @ 1:03 AM
Think this can't really not be true . If you were really visited by the same officer who was off duty at your home you need to see a solicitor at your soonest . WHY It's illegal for a off duty police officerto take your details ,then when they go on shift and access the police computer or any other data base to look at your details ,it's against the law full stop . She should off reported it and let a different officer deal with it . Conviction would be quashed and they will be charged with misconduct . Trust me on this been there
Simon - 12-Jan-17 @ 8:08 PM
Hello This evening I was in Tesco, parked to one side, engine running and on the phone trying to locate partner who had broken down in the car park. A car pulled up next to me and told me off for being on the phone, I was not moving but due to her blocking the traffic in both directions I stopped speaking on the phone but still had it in my hand and pulled away. This lady turned out to be a Police Officer and later turned up at my house later this evening and booked me. Told me my address details were incorrect for my car and insurance which I have just checked the paperwork and they're not! What are my rights to be booked by an off duty police officer for this offence in a supermarket car park? I look forward to your response. Kind regards Jenna
Jenna - 19-Dec-16 @ 9:59 PM
cawel - Your Question:
I am in a similar situation with Bones (Toll gate). I was stopped by the police in September 2016 that I was using my phone. I was not on my phone. I was having a conversation with the passenger in my car. I handed my phone to the police immediately he asked to see it. He checked my phone log, whatsapp and text. He responded that he saw me holding my phone. I have not heard anything from the police/court since then. How long will it take to get a court date?

Our Response:
It can take up to 6 months for the police to prepare a court case. You could try contacting them again to see whether any further action was due to take place.
NoPenaltyPoints - 8-Dec-16 @ 11:49 AM
I am in a similar situation with Bones (Toll gate). I was stopped by the police in September 2016 that I was using my phone. I was not on my phone. I was having a conversation with the passenger in my car. I handed my phone to the police immediately he asked to see it. He checked my phone log, whatsapp and text. He responded that he saw me holding my phone. I have not heard anything from the police/court since then. How long will it take to get a court date?
cawel - 5-Dec-16 @ 1:57 PM
Shane - Your Question:
Can you use a mobile phone if you are stationary in traffic with the engine off! ??? Thanks.

Our Response:
If there is a long traffic queue and it's clear that traffic will not be able to move for some time, mobile phone use will occasionally overlooked by the police. Take your keys completely out of the ignition to be sure you're within the law.
NoPenaltyPoints - 18-Nov-16 @ 11:53 AM
Can you use a mobile phone if you are stationary in traffic with the engine off! ??? Thanks.
Shane - 17-Nov-16 @ 1:46 PM
What's the difference between sitting on the side of the road with the engine on and the car in park and the handbrake on - to sitting on the side of the road with the engine off and the car in park and the handbrake on? I understand that it's the law, but... =/
Aria - 22-Jul-16 @ 1:17 PM
If you have a mobile phone. Switch itOFF and leave it somewhere your hands can't reach it, in the boot or backseat! Simple! Use it when you get out of your car after you park up , or stop safetly and turn the engine OFF and use it. The Law is there for a reason, but idiots are still using them and moaning when they are caught. Classic comments on here ' I told the person at the other end..., but oh no I didn't use my phone' . If there's a lifetime driving ban put in place people would still want to text status updates. It's unbelievable!
Knows nowt - 1-Jun-16 @ 7:28 PM
I got stopped for using a mobile phone and accepted the ticket at the side of the road. But when I received my letter in the post the address for where the offence took place was completely different from where it happened does this mean anything
Sheep - 6-Apr-16 @ 6:59 PM
Hi - I'm still trying to get clarity on where I stand but I have decided now to take the case to Court and fight it even though I have a clean license and driving record. I passed my phone across to my front passenger, crucially the phone was not on. The officer saw me with the phone momentarily in my hand & gave me a ticket. I asked him twice to look at my phone but he refused to saying "I don't need to". I signed my ticket with my response as "I passed it to my Son." Any words of advice would be appreciated but I am yet to hear of a case where a phone is not on being charged! Over zealous policing I reckon!
Baker Boy - 8-Mar-16 @ 10:36 PM
Bones - Your Question:
Hi like was at the Toll gate. Stationary with engine still running. Police were parked just at the exit.l was alarmed my phone rang.l informed the person at the other end there were police in the bay of the toll gate l could not talk.At this point l slowed the vehicle down to stop.Then l was stopped by the police who asked for my licence then acuused me of talking on the cell phone. She did not issue me with a ticket but she took my details down will l be issued with a penalty.

Our Response:
You will usually be given a 3 point penalty and £100 for this offence. Occasionally you might receive a court summons.
NoPenaltyPoints - 19-Feb-16 @ 11:54 AM
Hi like was at the Toll gate. Stationary with engine still running. Police were parked just at the exit.l was alarmed my phone rang.l informed the person at the other end there were police in the bay of the toll gate l could not talk.At this point l slowed the vehicle down to stop.Then l was stopped by the police who asked for my licence then acuused me of talking on the cell phone. She did not issue me with a ticket but she took my details down will l be issued with a penalty.
Bones - 18-Feb-16 @ 3:04 PM
Hi, I was stopped by a police officer. I was in a traffic jam, ( for some time) and my engine cuts out automactically if stationary. He accused me of using a mobile device, which I dispute (Phone records show i made a call 20 minutes earlier, but that's it). However I was holding my phone. I have been "invited" to attend a "what's driving us" course, in leiu of points. Can i argue against this, either on the grounds of engine being off, or not actually using the phone?
FeistyGeezer - 12-Oct-15 @ 5:02 PM
can you show me wear I can see this law wear it tells me that it is an offence to use a phone when parked with engine running as all the law tells me is I can use my phone if I am parked it dos not say any thing about turning off the engine as if you are parked you are not driving
mickyboy - 5-May-15 @ 1:02 PM
@gtx. No you would have heard by now if you were to be offered a course.
NoPenaltyPoints - 26-Mar-15 @ 11:10 AM
Hi I had a my fault RTC on 15/12/14 Police came to my home in late Jan and did a Q andA under caution but I have not had a NIP and now 23/3/15 Iam being offered a driver awareness course?
gtx - 23-Mar-15 @ 6:53 PM
@Gaffer. So you weren't "parked" and the ignition was not techinically 'switched off' either (e.g as soon as you begin to accelerate the engine automatically switches back). It's unlikely you'd get it away with this.
NoPenaltyPoints - 25-Feb-15 @ 1:03 PM
Just received penalty gone for holding mobile phone I was not on it and was stationary at traffic lights engine was not running as car has stop start!! Where do I stand should I pay it?
Gaffer - 23-Feb-15 @ 3:52 PM
@becky. You should only stop on the hard shoulder of a motorway if you breakdown, there is an emergency or if you are told to stop by the police. Similar rules apply to dual carriageways, especially those marked as clearways where you can only stop if there is a suitable layby. Your only sensible course of action if delayed would be to travel off the motorway or dual carriageway to a service station or safe parking spot, which might delay you further!
NoPenaltyPoints - 6-Jan-15 @ 10:25 AM
@charlesH. It's a bit of a woolly area - the government information states the following:
"If you’re the driver, you can only use your phone in a vehicle if you:
Need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop
or
Are safely parked.
NoPenaltyPoints - 5-Jan-15 @ 10:51 AM
My employer has asked that I phone work to let them know I am going to be late when stuck in traffic.I was told I can always pull over onto the hard shoulder when driving on a motorway or a layby on a dual carriage way.I complained that I didn't feel this was safe unless it was an emergency.Are there any guidelines?
Becky - 31-Dec-14 @ 12:21 PM
Not the requirement to park safely and switch off engine but do the keys need to be removed from the ignition or can they stay in place?
CharlesH - 29-Dec-14 @ 12:27 PM
@dennis61. Without seeing the ticket we can't really give great advice. But if the information is incorrect or incomplete, take it to the CAB or to a motoring lawyer (often the first half hour interview is free) and ask their advice.
NoPenaltyPoints - 21-Oct-14 @ 2:09 PM
My wife was pulled for reading a txt at traffic lights 1. there is no reply written on the 'caution' part of the yellow ticket - and she cannot recall being cautioned - is a caution required? 2. the car registration show on the ticket is incorrect- is it worth arguing the toss?
dennis61 - 19-Oct-14 @ 10:28 PM
@ouch. It was never an offence to use a phone when parked in a private (non public) area. Here is the government advice:
"When you can use a phone in your vehicle If you're the driver, you can only use your phone in a vehicle if you: need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop are safely parked."
and the DFT information:
"Driving is using a motor vehi­cle on pub­lic roads and can include when a vehi­cle is stopped at traf­fic lights or dur­ing a traf­fic hold-up. Therefore you should not use that time to make or receive a call. Park safely and then use the phone (but not on the motor­way hard shoulder)."
NoPenaltyPoints - 8-Oct-14 @ 10:44 AM
Hi Is it still an offence to use your phone if you are on a private car park with your engine running?
Ouch - 8-Oct-14 @ 10:01 AM
today I was pulled over at the side of the road,indicator was on but engine was still running.I checked my mobile phone to see if my daughter had sent me a text as I was waiting to pick her up.a police car came and parked behind me,he was writing in a pad but did not get out to speak to me or use his lights .was it just co incidence or should I expect something nasty in the post?
worried - 6-Oct-14 @ 7:08 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Pete
    Re: Driving Offences on a Motorway
    i was coming off the motor way doing 80mph and coming to a road of 50mph didn't slow down on time and i got a letter in the post…
    27 March 2017
  • Claire123
    Re: Speed Awareness Course
    Was speeding 64 in a 50 will I get to do the awareness course
    27 March 2017
  • Kps600
    Re: Notice of Intended Prosecution
    I havd just received a NIP for 46 in a 40 limit, allowing for 10% speedo error that's 4 mph and 2 mph on top 46 mph,my…
    27 March 2017
  • Shahid
    Re: How to Appeal a Parking Ticket
    Got a ticket in Liverpool on a single yellow line observed from 2.51pm to 2.51pm so within that minute, is this lawful or can I…
    27 March 2017
  • NoPenaltyPoints
    Re: Speed Awareness Course
    lewis - Your Question:I think I got caught doing 60 in a 50 because I accidentally misread the sign, would I be offered a course
    27 March 2017
  • Nexial
    Re: Challenging a Speeding Fine
    I recently got pulled over after doing 40mph on a road that A:) didnt have any speed repeaters and B:) didnt have any…
    27 March 2017
  • Bdc
    Re: Running a Red Light
    I was waiting at a two lane light system (one lane going straight one lane going right) I was in the lane to move right when the forward…
    27 March 2017
  • Sooty
    Re: Does an NIP have to be Served Within 14 Days?
    I drove on a route covered by average speed cameras. In my ignorance I was unaware that part of it was a…
    27 March 2017
  • Marc
    Re: What to Do If You Get a Speeding Ticket
    Hi. Is there anyway of getting out of 3 speeding tickets from the same camera at different times. Its an average…
    26 March 2017
  • Minhon
    Re: When a Vehicle Can Be Seized
    On June 2015 I was driving and was striped by police as my van did not appear to be on the insurance data base, I thought the…
    26 March 2017
  • Further Reading...
    Our Most Popular...
    We are on Facebook
    Check us out...
    Add to my Yahoo!
    Add to Google
    Stumble this
    Add to Twitter
    Add To Facebook
    RSS feed
    You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the NoPenaltyPoints website. Please read our Disclaimer.