ELDARF v The Queen
On 23 September 2018 the appeal of Mr. Eldarf for driving his car while using a mobile phone was heard at Harrow Crown Court. In this case it was accepted that, although he was handling the phone, he was not making a phone call or accessing the Internet. He was touching the screen with his thumb and changing the track of music which was pre-downloaded and stored in the device. The prosecution said that, in effect, it was enough that he was “messing with his phone“ so to speak make him guilty of the offence. He did not need to be making a telephone call or connecting with the Internet. The defence argued that the mobile phone offence does not cover a situation such as this, where the phone is not being used as a phone or to connect to the Internet. The court considered the regulations carefully and decided that the driver was correct. It was open to the police to charge him with a different offence e.g. careless driving or not being in proper control of the vehicle.
This is an interesting case as it shows limits to the liability of a driver, who is holding a phone whilst driving. It must be said though that this was a decision of the Crown Court hearing appeal from the Magistrates’ Court. As such, this decision is not a precedent and need not be followed by other courts. Nevertheless, it contains a useful analysis of the mobile phone offence and how far it goes.
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