Caught using your mobile phone behind the wheel? Then you could be facing a charge of dangerous driving - and two years behind bars.
Under new guidance from the Crown Prosecution Service, driving dangerously while using a phone will see drivers charged under that very offence: which carries a maximum jail term of two years.
This is on top of the existing three points/£60 fine - and, controversially, may include even those speaking on hands-free kits. Police will have the powers to check mobile phone records and see if the driver was receiving or making a call when the incident took place. What's more, the legislation extends to cover those motorists sending text messages while driving, too - something the CPS also cites as being dangerous.
Evidence from the Transport Research Laboratory supports the CPS' guidance: they found that using a mobile while driving can be more dangerous than drink driving. Apparently, someone who has consumed enough alcohol to take them up to, but not over, the legal limit proved less distracted during simulations than people speaking on mobiles. Amazingly, there was a four-times greater chance that the driver chatting on the phone would crash, compared to the 'drunk' driver. Certainly something to think about as the festive anti-drink-driving campaigns start in earnest.
And it's not just mobile phone users at risk. Those charged with using sat nav or MP3 players dangerously can also be charged. What's more, if the driver causes death by dangerous driving, CPS guidance suggests such incidents be charged as manslaughter - which can carry a life sentence. Of course, such measures will only be taken under the very worst examples of dangerous driving, but it's still clear evidence that legislators are determined to crack down on those drivers who so blatantly flout the law.