Motorists who drive dangerously while using mobile phones at the wheel could face up to two years in prison under new guidelines.
Drivers in England and Wales who cause death on the roads could also face life imprisonment under the new guidance from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
Most motorists caught using a mobile phone while driving will face a charge of careless driving, which can be dealt with by fines and points.
But in the worst cases drivers could now face a charge of dangerous driving, which carries a sentence of up to two years in prison.
The CPS says dangerous driving could also include racing or competitive driving, disregarding warnings from fellow passengers, aggressive driving or driving much too close to the vehicle in front.
Under the guidance the worst cases of death by dangerous driving could also be prosecuted as manslaughter, which carries a maximum life sentence.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Ken Macdonald, QC, said: ‘The revised policy responds to public concern about the dangers of driving while using a mobile phone and this means that a charge of dangerous driving will now be the starting point for this offence, where there is clear evidence that danger has been caused by its use.
He added: ‘We want to make sure our prosecutors reach the correct charging decisions not only in line with current law, but also, where it is just and lawful to do so, that they take into account changing public attitudes to bad driving and the desire of victims or their families and friends to see that justice is done.’