Motorists caught driving dangerously while using a handheld mobile phone face jail under new guidelines.
The Crown Prosecution Service guidance follows a policy change announced in September because of concerns that too many drivers flouted the ban.
Most drivers will still face the standard penalty of a fine and points, but where driving falls far short of what is safe, prosecutors can press charges of dangerous driving, which carries a maximum two-year sentence.
When he announced the change in policy earlier this year, Director of Public Prosecutions Sir Ken Macdonald said such cases could include sending a text message while driving.
Meanwhile, one of the UK's biggest transport companies, FirstGroup, has announced that none of its employees will be allowed to use hands-free mobiles – which are legal.
FirstGroup operates more than one in five local bus services across the UK, and trains including First Great Western. The firm's bus and train drivers are already banned from using them and that will be extended to any staff on company business.
It follows findings by the Transport Research Laboratory that having a phone conversation could be more dangerous than drink driving. According to the research, a driver on the phone is more distracted than one who has drunk as much as the legal alcohol limit.