Mobile Phones and Driving
Whilst driving, have you ever picked up your phone to check the time? Skip a song? Decline a call?
If you answered yes, you would have opened yourself to a charge of Use Mobile Phone Whilst Driving. These minor acts all constitute ‘using’ your phone, which is not permitted under NSW law.
Full licence holders
There is not an outright ban on phone use, as unrestricted drivers are able to use their phone if:
- The phone is within a commercially designed and manufactured mounting bracket.
- No part of the driver comes into contact with the phone whilst driving.
As you can imagine, there are a variety of cases asking the question, what is ‘using’ a phone? These are all Australian examples of drivers using a phone:
- a single button push to decline a call
- speaking via a headset connected to a phone
- receiving a message whilst holding the phone
It’s important to note that the device must be a ‘mobile phone’. Cases have failed because the device turned out to be a MP3 player, iPod or remote controller.
Learners and Provisional Drivers
There are special rules if you are a learner or provisional driver.
Offences for driving whilst on the phone are based on the idea of preventing distractions for drivers. As L Plate and P Plate drivers are more inexperienced than your standard driver, they are also prevented from using:
- GPS functions
- Calls via the speaker
Essentially drivers must be very wary of phone use whilst driving. Although, there are a few exceptions:
- Paying for goods and services
- Displaying a coupon, voucher or card
- Enabling entry onto a road or piece of land
Using your phone whilst driving is certainly tempting, however the penalties are often more severe than people expect. The maximum penalty is $2,200.00 and five demerit points.
If you are found using your phone within a double demerit point weekend, you will incur ten demerit points. This offence often catches people out and can result in lengthy suspension periods depending on your licence.
Depending on your licence and circumstances, you may be able to elect to take the infringement notice to court or appeal the notice of suspension.
At Morrisons we are specialist criminal and traffic lawyers based in Wollongong and the Southern Highlands. If you require advice or representation, you can book an appointment with one of our expert criminal lawyers.