MOTORISTS in Cheshire racked up fines of almost £45,000 in the first month since tougher punishments for using mobile phones while driving came into force.

Following the introduction of the new legislation, which came into force on March 1, anyone caught driving while using the device will receive a £200 fine and six penalty points on their licence.

Throughout March, Cheshire Police issued 224 tickets, which amounts to £44,800 and 1,344 penalty points.

Motorists can attend court to contest the offence, but if the court rules against the defendant the penalty could be greater.

Ch Insp Simon Meegan, from Northwich Local Policing Unit, has warned motorists to think of the potentially fatal consequences of using mobile their mobile phone while driving.

He said: “The sanctions on mobile phones needed to be changes to reflect the severity of the consequences.

“We want people to think that if they take that call it might end up causing a fatality to someone else. It only takes a minute for a decision to have fatal consequences.

“Some people just cannot wait or resist the urge to make a text or make a call, or some people work from their cars. The vast majority of people realise they are committing an offence.

“However, it is the consequences of that offence, that action. If you take a call or make a text message that can result in death or serious injury.”

He added: “If you are speaking to someone, and they say they have to be quick because they are driving, you need to terminate the call.

“There is nothing more profound than when you have seen a fatal accident, where someone one has been trying to call the driver back. I have been there.”

Ch Insp Meegan warned motorists about other devices that may also prove distracting – and potentially fatal.

“The message is simple, if it can cause a distraction, do not use it while driving,” he said.

“I think people are now aware, with the increased sanctions, thankfully the message is getting through.”