Use of a Mobile Phone While Driving - Review of Existing Offence and Associated Penalties

Closed 15 May 2018

Opened 5 Mar 2018



The Road Safety Strategy for Northern Ireland to 2020 contains an action measure (AM105) to ‘consider further measures to reduce mobile phone usage, including texting, while driving’.

This consultation assesses the impact of using a hand-held mobile phone while driving both in terms of the effect on driving ability and the deaths and injuries caused in Northern Ireland.  It considers the need for change, reports on the arrangements in both Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland and proposes options.

At present, the offence in Northern Ireland is punishable by a fixed penalty fine (£60) and three penalty points on your driving licence. The maximum penalty on conviction in court includes a £1,000 fine (£2,500 for a passenger carrying vehicle or goods vehicle) and three penalty points. You may also be disqualified from driving.

In 2016, the Department for Transport consulted on proposals to increase the fine and penalty points for the same offence in Great Britain. There was clear support for an increase in the penalties available and, with effect from 1 March 2017, the fixed penalty increased to £200 and six points, for all drivers. Prior to consultation, the penalty in Great Britain was already higher than in Northern Ireland at £100 and three penalty points (increased from £60 in 2013).

While the consultation explores a number of options in terms of the appropriate level for the fixed penalty fine - new proposals could potentially see the fine increase to £200.

Views are also sought on proposals to increase the number of penalty points for this offence. The consultation asks whether there should  be a specific penalty for drivers of HGVs and buses - or whether the same number of points should apply to all drivers.

Any increase to the number of penalty points would also apply when a driver is convicted in court. This will ensure no differentiation between the number of points when a driver accepts a Fixed Penalty Notice or is prosecuted through the courts.

The consultation also proposes a number of longer-term legislative changes to the existing offence aimed at assisting enforcement and creating a more effective deterrent.

All of the proposals outlined in the consultation ultimately aim to reduce the number of deaths and injuries on the roads.

Views are invited on all aspects of this paper. The responses will be used to put proposals to an incoming Infrastructure Minister, who will make a decision on the way forward. 

This document is available in a range of formats please contact us with your requirements.

Contact details are:

Mobile Phone Consultation Responses

Safe and Sustainable Travel Division

Department for Infrastructure

Room 4-20 Clarence Court

10-18 Adelaide Street

Town Parks

Belfast BT2 8GB



Telephone:       028 9054 0822 (text relay prefix 18001)


What Happens Next




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