Drivers who pay with mobile phones at drive-thru restaurants could face a hefty fine and penalty points on their licence.

And if a new driver is caught it would be enough for them to be stripped of their licence and banned from the road.

The current highway code states that it is illegal to pick up and use a hand-held phone while the engine is still running.

This means that many unwitting people are inadvertently breaking the law by paying with their phone at a drive-thru or petrol station.

Currently, if you are caught using your mobile behind the wheel you could receive a penalty of six points and a £200 fine.

News Shopper: Motorists could be fined for using their phones at a drive-thruMotorists could be fined for using their phones at a drive-thru

Fines can, however, increase to £1,000 if your case goes to court.

You could even lose your license if you passed your driving test in the last two years.

Mike Thompson from Leasing Options has said: “All drivers should be wary of the UK’s phone driving law.

"Not only is it dangerous to operate a hand-held device while driving, but it can also land you in some serious trouble.

"Even before the potential new changes are implemented this year, you could still commit an offence by using your phone at a drive-thru, petrol station or car park if your engine is still running.

"Don’t forget to turn off your engine just to be safe.”

It's been three years since tougher penalties were brought in for using your phone behind the wheel.

And legal experts are reminding drivers the laws even apply to making contactless payments with your handset when the engine is running.

It means pulling up to the window at your local McDonald's or Burger King and paying with your smartphone is enough to see you slapped with a £200 fine and six penalty points if spotted by police.

But if your driving is particularly careless as a result of using your phone, your case could go to court where you could get a maximum fine of £1,000.

The laws can also apply to paying for fuel with your mobile phone.

Some service stations offer options to pay from the car, but as long as the engine is switched off then you shouldn't be punished.

Previously, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) claimed the law should apply when a motorist is on a road meaning an offence may not be committed if a driver is off the main network.

They have urged officers to use their discretion in each case to avoid unnecessarily punishing drivers.

Mobile phone laws have been around since 2003 and it's illegal to touch one – even with a handsfree set – while driving.

This includes using a mobile to follow a map, read a text or check social media.

You can only use a handheld phone if you are safely parked or need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it's unsafe or impractical to stop.

But if the police think you’re distracted and not in control of your vehicle you could still get stopped and penalised.