A celebrity lawyer wants to see mobile phone driving laws tightened — despite using a loophole to defend comedian Jimmy Carr.
Over the years, Nick Freeman has won driving cases on behalf of David Beckham, Jeremy Clarkson, and Jimmy Carr on technicalities — earning him the nickname ‘Mr Loophole’.
Now, Mr Loophole says a proposed change in the law doesn’t go far enough.
He even used the loophole he wants to close when representing Jimmy Carr, after arguing the comedian’s use of his iPhone to record a joke behind the wheel was not ‘interactive communication’.
Instead, the Manchester lawyer wants to ban the use of mobiles behind the wheel in all circumstances, except emergencies.
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He says gadgets like hands-free technology and dashboard cradles are just as dangerous as holding the phone up to your ear.
“In my opinion, any form of use of a phone, except for an emergency, should be banned,” Mr Freeman said.
“The Government needs to say any use of a mobile phone in a car should be outlawed even if it is hands free and resting in a cradle.
“If we are talking about making our roads safer, why say you can use a phone for this purpose or that purpose if it is in a cradle — when in reality it is just as dangerous as if you had it pressed against your ear.
“In terms of distraction, hands free has been equated with just below the level at which you’re permitted to drink and drive… [so] the chances of you having an accident using hands free increases four-fold. The stakes are just too high.”
Currently, it is an offence to use a handheld device behind the wheel to make a call — but new reforms seek to close ‘interactive communication’ loophole, which would also prevent motorists from using their phones for non-interactive purposes such as dictation, taking photos or videos, scrolling through social media or playing games.
Alongside calling for the outright ban, Mr Loophole also says penalties for using your mobile should be toughened up — to be in line with drink-driving offences.
He added: “The difficulty with all laws is enforcement, so if there are no police out on the street, it doesn’t matter what you do with the legislation.
“We therefore need a penalty that polices itself and we need to socially stigmatise all use of mobile phones behind the wheel — in the same way that we do with drink driving.
“If the level of distraction for phone use is the same as drink driving, then I see no reason why the penalty shouldn’t be exactly the same – a minimum 12 month disqualification.
“With this penalty the vast majority of people who are tempted would have second thoughts.”
The current laws, in force since 2003, hand a £200 fine and six points on your licence for mobile phone offenders.