Cars with Stop/Start + driver using a mobile phone.

PeteXXX

Cake or ice cream? The choice is endless ...
Location
Hamtun
We all know that the Highway Code is somewhat dated in many respects, but, a general question on the law..

If a driver is fiddling with his/her mobile whilst sat in traffic, or parked, with the engine running, they are guilty of an offence. Obvious.
What if the driver used the defence, if caught, that with Stop/Start, the engine is switched off, ie: not running, therefore, it would be legal to use/fiddle with a mobile phone?

No specific reason for the question, but just a thought that popped into my ageing brain, as I was driving such a vehicle recently (and not fiddling with my mobile!!)

In case there's folk who doesn't know what Stop/Start is, it's when the car stops, so does the engine. Once the accelerator is used, the engine restarts and off you go.
 

Bonefish Blues

Banging donk
Location
52 Festive Road
Offence IMHO - car is 'switched on' and capable of movement.
 
I suspect the point would be the driver is still 'in charge' of the car, whether the engine is off or on.

Being parked in a parking bay - as opposed to being stopped in traffic - could be a grey area.

It's certainly an offence to be the only person in your parked car if you are over the drink drive limit.
 

alicat

Legendary Member
Location
Staffs
^^^ Wot @Pale Rider says (at least in respect of mobile phone use). The offence is driving while using a mobile phone. It has been held that being stationary with the engine on is still driving it because you are in charge of the steering and propulsion. Equally, you can be driving a car even if the engine is off e.g. by letting the handbrake off on a slope.

The CPS guidance seems to indicate that having the engine switched off could be argued to be driving it. "The Defendant’s vehicle was in a place that he could not provide any explanation for how it got there, other than that the car had been driven there by him."

So if you have pulled off the road, switched the engine off and made the call, you are not driving. However if you are in a line of traffic waiting to go you are still driving your car. You are in charge of the steering and propulsion and it is irrelevant whether the engine is on or off.
 
Hmmm, we could have an argument about that. depending on the circumstances, if one did not have the keys in one's possession such that it was perfectly clear that one did not intend to drive the car.
There have been arguments about it in magistrates' courts.

Typically, drunk husband claims he fell out with his wife and went to sleep in the car to cool off.

Intention to drive doesn't really come into it, but you would be in a stronger position had you opened the car, put the key back on its hook in the house, then went out and got in it.

But if you are in the car with the key in the ignition, even if it is just to listen to the radio, you are in bother.

One I recall revolved around it being a freezing cold night - the drunk guy said he needed the engine running for the heater.

Might even have been true, he was convicted but avoided a ban which is discretionary for the 'in charge' offence.

It's all very risky, Fred and Doris on your local bench might decide one way or the other.

The only safe course is not to get in your car while drunk.
 

Bonefish Blues

Banging donk
Location
52 Festive Road
There have been arguments about it in magistrates' courts.

Typically, drunk husband claims he fell out with his wife and went to sleep in the car to cool off.

Intention to drive doesn't really come into it, but you would be in a stronger position had you opened the car, put the key back on its hook in the house, then went out and got in it.

But if you are in the car with the key in the ignition, even if it is just to listen to the radio, you are in bother.

One I recall revolved around it being a freezing cold night - the drunk guy said he needed the engine running for the heater.

Might even have been true, he was convicted but avoided a ban which is discretionary for the 'in charge' offence.

It's all very risky, Fred and Doris on your local bench might decide one way or the other.

The only safe course is not to get in your car while drunk.
We agree - I was taking issue with the 'automatic' nature of your post. That isn't an offence per se, as you indicate.
 
Camper van owners - and overnighting lorry drivers - have to be careful of the drunk in charge offence.

A couple I know who have a camper van make sure one of them is sober if they are overnighting anywhere near a public road.

A lorry driver on his own in a lay by is clearly in charge of the vehicle.

I think some of them do have a few cans, probably OK if they are out of time on the tacho and cannot drive for a few hours anyway.
 
Hmmm, we could have an argument about that. depending on the circumstances, if one did not have the keys in one's possession such that it was perfectly clear that one did not intend to drive the car.
Yebbut, what if you go to your car to get stuff after a few sherbets ? You need the key to open the door, but likely have no intention to drive.
 
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