It has been illegal to drive while using your phone since 2003, but recent law changes have seen penalties become much harsher in a drive to dramatically restrict phone usage while driving and make the roads a safer place.
The new laws came into effect on March, 1 2017. The basic penalty for using your phone at the same time as driving a car is now £200 and six points on your license; this is double the previous penalty.
With new drivers being banned if they reach six points rather than the usual 12, this means that if you have been driving for less than two years and are caught driving on your mobile phone, you will lose your license.
This instant ban is much stricter for new drivers and is aimed at being a strong deterrent. It means that new drivers would have to re-apply for their provisional licence, as well as going through the theory and practical driving tests again; not a cheap option by any means.
And now onto the specifics. It is, of course, illegal to text, or for that matter check Facebook, or any other website, while driving. Fully hands-free phones are allowed but you literally cannot touch your phone at all, and even if you are using it entirely hands-free, you can still be stopped by the police if they think that it is distracting you.
You are allowed to use your phone as a sat nav but only if it is mounted in a hands-free holder, and again, if you are distracted the police can stop you, and you certainly cannot hold your phone and use a map. The new laws do not just apply when the vehicle is moving but also in stationary traffic, at traffic lights, queuing in traffic and basically any time that the engine is still running. All these rules apply equally to motorbikes, cars, buses and other vehicles.
The only time that you can use your phone non-hands free when driving, is in an emergency to dial 999 or 112 and even then, only if you really cannot stop and pull over. If you must check that email or reply to a text, pull over and turn off your engine first.
Recent high profile crashes involving mobile phone use have meant that this change, although strict, is deemed essential to limit the distraction of phones when driving and ultimately to save lives.