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Legal or Not – Using Ham Radio When Driving?

mobile mess - don't do thisIn the UK it is an offence to use mobile telephones etc while driving. The question often arises as to whether using amateur radio while driving is legal or not. The definition of driving extends as far as parked with the engine still running. While this is the law, it’s stretching the definition to it’s extreme.

The law is pretty clear on whether it’s legal or otherwise. It is set out in an official document. The document in question is “The road vehicles (construction and use) regulations 2003”. A bit of a long-winded title, but in essence, the answer is a simple Yes, it’s completely legal to use amateur radio while driving.

However, while it isn’t an offence to use the radio, if PC Plod decides to “have a word”, it may prove prudent to carry a copy of your amateur licence and a print out of the legislation as PC Plod probably won’t have a clue about amateur radio.

Another point to bear in mind, if you get stopped by PC Plod for the offence of using a mobile phone while driving and he’s not interested in your bits of paper, don’t argue with him as he probably won’t have a clue about the difference between a phone and amateur radio. The chances are that if you start trying to argue your point, he’ll get a bit irritated and try to find something else; which could be careless driving if you upset him too much!

Instead, agree with him that you’ve been caught using a radio device, don’t use the word phone. Once you receive your notice of intended prosecution, you are offered the chance to defend yourself in court, this may be the option to choose. At the hearing, produce relevant documentation, such as your amateur licence, a copy of the road traffic act and anything else you think may help your case.

Remember, I’m not a lawyer, so seek your own legal advice.

The complete document on the UK government website is here.

The text which the amateur needs to note is section 6. In particular paragraph D.
The text is reproduced below and is copyright of © Crown Copyright 2003.

(6) For the purposes of this regulation—

(a) A mobile telephone or other device is to be treated as hand-held if it is, or must be, held at some point during the course of making or receiving a call or performing any other interactive communication function;

(b) A person supervises the holder of a provisional licence if he does so pursuant to a condition imposed on that licence holder prescribed under section 97(3)(a) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (grant of provisional licence);

(c) “interactive communication function” includes the following:

(i) sending or receiving oral or written messages;

(ii) sending or receiving facsimile documents;

(iii) sending or receiving still or moving images; and

(iv) providing access to the internet;

(d) “two-way radio” means any wireless telegraphy apparatus which is designed or adapted—

(i) for the purpose of transmitting and receiving spoken messages; and

(ii) to operate on any frequency other than 880 MHz to 915 MHz, 925 MHz to 960 MHz, 1710 MHz to 1785 MHz, 1805 MHz to 1880 MHz, 1900 MHz to 1980 MHz or 2110 MHz to 2170 MHz; and

(e) “wireless telegraphy” has the same meaning as in section 19(1) of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949.

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