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23rd Oct 2018

Here’s The Irish Stance On The New Passenger Phone Fine Introduced In England

Darragh Berry

While it’s common knowledge that using your phone behind the wheel of the car could get you in trouble, what about if you’re in the passenger seat.

It is being reported that there is a rule that most people in the UK will be unaware of and that is that you could get fined a couple of hundred while also getting penalty points for using your phone in the passenger seat while the car is in motion.

The rule applies to passengers who are sitting next to a learner driver and are acting as their ‘licenced driver’ on the road.

This new rule – as reported in The Express – leaves passengers open to the laws that usually only apply to drivers.

These ‘full licenced drivers’ are not allowed touch their phone while the learner driver is driving.

Now when we heard this news, we began to panic a bit and wondered if the same applied for Ireland and if so, was it as strict as the UK.

Conor Faughan Director of Consumer Affairs with the AA told Lovin that:

“The law in question is from the UK and The United States and says that if you are supervising a learner driver, then you must behave as if you were driving, eg by using seatbelts, and you can be fined and receive penalty points if you do not.

There is no similar law in Ireland so the answer is no, you cannot get penalty points for your behaviour in the passenger seat.

“You can be fined €80 for not wearing a seatbelt but you do not get penalty points.

“When a driver is accompanying a learner they must have held a full licence for at least 3 years.

“The law originally intended to stipulate that the accompanying driver must be in a position to drive the car, i.e. must be insured to do so and be sober etc.

“In fact those provisions have not been put live yet and even when they are the sanction is a fine for the individual but you won’t ever get penalty points unless you are the one who is driving.”

When asked if he felt that Ireland need a similar passenger phone rule like the UK and USA, Conor said:

“I wouldn’t consider it a priority to introduce a rule like that in Ireland so I would not be in favour.

“It is the intention (as aforementioned) to introduce a rule requiring the accompanying driver to be sober and insured on the car.

“That is worthwhile I think, and it is likely to come about when they get regulations properly updated but it could be some time before that happens.”

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