Director of Public Prosecutions v Barreto [2019] EWHC 2044 (Admin) (31 July 2019)

The Divisional Court in London recently considered a Case Stated on the use of a mobile phone whilst driving.

By way of background, the Defendant was observed by Police filming the scene of a serious accident on his mobile phone as he drove past. He was convicted before the Magistrates’ Court. On Appeal, his conviction was overturned on the basis that the law is specific to the use of devices ‘for the purposes of interactive communication’:

It would have been much better to have drafted legislation which was less cumbersome but its effect is clear. The legislation does not prohibit all use of a mobile phone held while driving. It prohibits driving while using a mobile phone or other device for calls and other interactive communication (and holding it at some stage during that process).

Whether a review of the regulations is necessary to take account of the myriad current and potentially dangerous uses of a mobile phone or other device while driving is a matter for Parliament, not the courts.

It occurs that the outcome would have been different had the Defendant simply been prosecuted for driving without due care and attention.  

By Paul Sullivan FRSA

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