Firstly – don’t read this while driving! The rules on mobile phone use while driving are often misunderstood, which means that you can easily get caught out by a mobile phone detection camera or traffic and highway patrol. Here’s what you need to know to avoid being fined or losing points off your licence and potentially having your licence suspended.
What are the rules on using mobile phones while driving?
There are strict rules about how and when you can use a mobile phone while driving. The rules apply to all types of vehicles, including cars, trucks, and motorcycles, but there are variations on rules depending on your licence.
You can legally use your mobile phone to show your digital driver’s licence when instructed by a police officer. You can also use wallet functions to make a transaction or show a voucher, but only in an area such as a car park, driveway or drive‑through, and when your vehicle is stationary.
Rules for Learner, P1 and P2 drivers
If you’re a Learner, Red (P1) or Green P-Plater (P2), you can’t use your mobile phone while driving for any reason – including maps and navigation – even if it’s in a phone holder or hands-free. This includes when you’re stationary, so it’s best to put your phone out of reach to avoid temptation.
Rules for drivers with full licence
If you have a full licence, you can use a mobile phone while driving as long as it’s hands-free and without touching it, or if it’s in a phone holder. In both cases, you can only play audio such as music and podcasts, use voice navigation, and make or receive voice calls. You can use visual maps if your phone is in a phone holder but it must be fixed to your vehicle and must not obscure your vision.
Can I use my mobile phone when I’m parked?
All drivers – including Learners, P1 and P2 – can use their mobile phones if they’re parked out of the line of traffic. The ignition does not need to be off.
What are the fines and penalties?
Because the risk is so great, the penalty for using a mobile phone while driving in NSW is a hefty fine of $352 and five demerit points. This penalty increases to ten demerit points during holiday periods, such as Christmas and Easter.
If you’re caught using your mobile phone while driving in active school zones or work zones, you’ll be fined $469 and lose ten demerit points. Losing even five points as a Learner or P1 driver automatically leads to loss of licence, and fines escalate for repeat offenders.
Are laws and penalties the same across Australia?
Surprisingly, the rules aren’t the same across the country. The Australian Road Rules (ARR) provide a national framework for regulating road use, including the use of mobile phones while driving. Rules 300-1 of the ARR prohibits drivers from using a mobile phone while driving unless the phone is secured in a commercially-designed holder or is operated via Bluetooth or similar hands-free technology.
The ARR are model laws with no legal effect and guide state and territory laws and penalties, but the laws and penalties vary among states and territories, which is important to keep in mind during your next interstate trip.
Contact Seton Family Lawyers for advice on contesting a fine for using a mobile phone while driving
If you’ve been fined for using a mobile phone while driving, you have the right to contest it in court. Seton Family Lawyers can assist you in contesting the fine or charges by assessing the evidence against you, and identifying any potential defences or mitigating circumstances. We can help you get back on the road sooner.