No fine for 'urgent call' while driving: Italy court

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An Italian motorist has escaped a fine for driving while on the phone by proving that the call was urgent. Photo: Lord Jim/Flickr
15:08 CET+01:00
Speaking on the phone while driving is perfectly acceptable if the call is an important one, a court in Perugia has ruled.

The court overturned a fine given to a female motorist because she answered an important phone call from her grandmother's nursing home while driving.

The nursing home called to tell the woman that her grandmother was about to die, but the motorist was fined for answering the phone without using a hands-free set, Adnkronos reported.

Angered to have picked up a fine in what she felt were exceptional circumstances, the woman launched an appeal under article four of law 689/81, which states that driving while talking on the phone without using a hands-free set is acceptable, provided you are in a "legitimate state of need" or the call was made "in self defence".

While both of those categories are open to interpretation on a case-by-case basis, the Perugia judge said that the woman had shown "a state of need in line with what the law requires" to avoid her fine.

The decision is a success for Italian motorists looking to appeal against similar fines and sets a precedent, although it is perhaps unlikely to open the floodgates to similar appeals.

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In order to win her battle the woman had to present the judge with her grandmother's death certificate, proving that her elderly relative died just a few hours after the fine was issued.

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