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

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 10 Nov 2019 | 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 £200 which rises up to £1000 should the case end up in court. The current points endorsement is 6, 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.

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The safest thing to do is to remove the key from the ignition before using your mobile phone. That way yo are no longer in charge of the vehicle. Also note is illegal to be stationary with the engine running other than in a traffic jam under 2 pieces of legislation. So Stop your vehicle and remove the key before using your phone. Don't forget if you are a learner driver the person supervising you is also in charge of the vehicle (and you) so cannot use their mobile phone until the vehicle is stationary, the engine turned off and preferably the key removed.
JohnM - 10-Nov-19 @ 2:58 PM
My daughter was in a school mini bus, the driver was using his mobile phone, To tell the school they would be late for afternoon assembly. No answer,. He was in slow moving traffic , Police interviewed him after my complaint,. His response, he had turned the engine off, ( he never) the police have let him off, Because a 11 year old girl could not be a reliable witness,. There were 16 children on that mini bus. In traffic , ( admitted using it) but said he switched off the engine,. Is that legal. Thanks.
Jed - 10-Aug-19 @ 9:04 AM
i have a malaysian international licence from oversea to allow me to drive in uk.was stopped because of a back brake light and insurance is fine. but because i also got a provisional licence, i was told by the police who stop my car that it takes precedent and invalid my international driving licence. also said a sargeat told him cannot give a penalty and fine. have to report to court because i dont have L plates on car and would take it to over 6 points.i did call and check and was told its fine to drive with international driving licence but nothing was told of provisional licence would invalidate my international licence.whats my defence and whats the punishment from magistrate court for no L plate and no qualified person with me in car with provisional licence and international licence
sl - 24-May-19 @ 2:17 PM
The road was very congested so I switched the engine off whilst waiting for the traffic to move ahead. Then I took my phone off the cradle and start using it. Is this considered an offence still as was queuing rather than off the the main road? Secondly, can any evidence be used in court even if it is provided by a member of the public and not the police?
Andrea - 21-May-19 @ 4:14 PM
Whilst driving for a large bus company, i couldnt stop in a bus stop as someone had parked a car in it. So i had to pull in behind with just enough space to do so but had to let passengers out in the rd. I took a picture with my phone of the illegally parked car from within my cab. What is the correct law on this. All i did was take a picture. Any help would be appreciated.
Mr zero - 5-May-19 @ 7:20 PM
If someone is parked on their drive with the engine running and on their mobile phone is this legal or are they breaking the law?
Ppbums - 1-Apr-19 @ 9:41 PM
Can i ask a question. If you're parked up in a parking space with your engine running and you then use your mobile phone is it illegal.
Mush - 13-Feb-19 @ 5:34 PM
I was leaving Sainsbury’s about 6 pm when I coughs a police officer using his mobile phone while his engine was on and stationary so I asked him why use your phone while in control of the vehicle and his reply was “ it’s out of gear and the handbrake was applied so do one” does this mean I was in the wrong to challenge the officer? Please help
Ozwald420 - 6-Dec-18 @ 6:50 PM
Is it legal forthe driver to use a handheld pda given to us from our employer to input information about bins not out etc. Whilst sitting stationary in a bin lorry. The engine has to be running for the back of the lorry to work.
Binman - 18-Sep-18 @ 7:26 PM
I work as a taxi driver and we have a private rank if that fits approximately 50 cars at the Central Station this is not accessible by the public apart from foot traffic on the pavement next to us, obviously in the winter when it’s freezing cold we have to leave our engines running for up to 2 hours while we wait for passengers how does this cover me as far as the law is concerned because I watch films on my phone was waiting for customers
Taxi-lady - 18-Aug-18 @ 4:38 PM
Jamie - Your Question:
I was just stuck on the motorway all four lanes shut had been on there 20mins ignition off hand brake on playing on my phone and a police officer in the traffic has just come up and given me a ticket is it worth going to court

Our Response:
This does seem unreasonable if the lanes had been closed for some time and your iginition was off. The law does still apply when your vehicle is stopped at lights or in a traffic queue but if you've been stopped for some time and there's no sign of traffic moving soon, there may scope for some leniency...you'd be advised to seek help from a motoring lawyer.
NoPenaltyPoints - 30-Jul-18 @ 12:28 PM
I was just stuck on the motorway all four lanes shut had been on there 20mins ignition off hand brake on playing on my phone and a police officer in the traffic has just come up and given me a ticket is it worth going to court
Jamie - 27-Jul-18 @ 8:46 AM
Can I give my phone to somebody else while i am driving without looking at my phone basically while i was driving my brother asked me to give my phone to him because he want to make a call. My question is if police noticed that do i will get points on that as well for just giving my phone to front passenger from my front pocket?
D bai - 25-Jul-18 @ 12:20 PM
Geoff - Your Question:
I was stopped by the police on April 10 for using my mobile phone in the car, but the notice I received was not sent until three months after the offense. Is the citation valid after such a long period?

Our Response:
The 14 day rule does not apply if you are stopped at the time of the offence (where the police have up to 6 months to initiate further action).
NoPenaltyPoints - 23-Jul-18 @ 2:00 PM
I was stopped by the police on April 10 for using my mobile phone in the car, but the notice I received was not sent until three months after the offense. Is the citation valid after such a long period?
Geoff - 20-Jul-18 @ 1:45 AM
Can you use your phone in a traffic jam as not moving in your lane??if your engine is switched of ??
Tommcc - 25-Apr-18 @ 8:52 PM
CM - Your Question:
I drive a VW Touran with start-stop feature so the engine switches off automatically when waiting at lights with the handbrake on. Is is still an offence to use a phone, whilst stationary with the engine off waiting at the lights?

Our Response:
Yes, when you're at traffic lights, you are not safely parked up, you're waiting for lights to change.
NoPenaltyPoints - 13-Apr-18 @ 3:44 PM
I drive a VW Touran with start-stop feature so the engine switches off automatically when waiting at lights with the handbrake on. Is is still an offence to use a phone, whilst stationary with the engine off waiting at the lights?
CM - 12-Apr-18 @ 9:12 PM
Watto - Your Question:
A driver has been finished at work for using his mobile phone it was a bus he was on yet it was off in neutral with handbrake on he was told he will be reported to the dvla what is the law not company policy but the law on such matters is it legal in this situation if the bus was running definately yes I agree on it fully

Our Response:
The CPS advice is as follows: "Under existing case law a person may still be driving whilst the engine is running and the vehicle is stationary. This means that an individual stopped at a traffic light could be prosecuted for a mobile phone offence. The intention of the legislation is to promote road safety and so it will not normally be in the public interest to prosecute this offence if the driver has safely pulled over and stopped before taking hold of the phone."
NoPenaltyPoints - 31-Jan-18 @ 12:25 PM
A driver has been finished at work for using his mobile phone it was a bus he was on yet it was off in neutral with handbrake on he was told he will be reported to the dvla what is the law not company policy but the law on such matters is it legal in this situation if the bus was running definately yes i agree on it fully
Watto - 30-Jan-18 @ 1:07 PM
cant believe my eyes woman parked on corner on double yellow lines engine running and using phone at peak school pick up time drivers struggling to get out behind her without having a collision with oncoming cars and police who are 100yds away in station drive past her and do nothing what are we paying them for ??????????????
not happy - 27-Jun-17 @ 4:20 PM
Hi, I was sat at traffic lights with handbrake on and without thinking picked up my phone to check the time (my in car clock is out). An old lady banged on the window and told me to put the phone down (which I did) she then proceeded to take a photo of my car. Am I likely to get any repercussions from this if she goes to the police?
Misa7894 - 24-Apr-17 @ 4:57 PM
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
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
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