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Mobile Phone Offences

The crack down in relation to drivers using mobile phones continues, with the NSW State Government announcing that as of September 2018, the offence of Driver Use Mobile Phone will be increased to 5 demerit points. If you get caught during double demerits you will lose 10 points, and depending what’s already on your record, potentially your licence. The chances of being caught are higher than ever, with the introduction of camera’s capable of targeting mobile phone use by drivers as well as increased policing.

In recent times the public have been bombarded with news and other information about the dangers of using a mobile phone while driving. Taking your eyes off the road for seconds at a time can result in catastrophy and can be more dangerous than some speeding offences. Both Police and the Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) play an important role in regulating drivers and keeping our roads safe. Measures like this one are targetted at reducing accidents, injuries and deaths on NSW Roads.

It’s not only police and the NSW government cracking down on mobile phone offences, but the courts as well. Our solicitor’s appearing before Magistrate’s right across the state are witnessing Magistrate’s repeatedly (and justifiably) emphasising the significant dangers of mobile phone offences and in many cases, declining to afford drivers facing the loss of their licence any leniency.

It’s an offence for a full licence holder to use, or even touch a mobile phone unless the car is parked or the phone is secured in a mounting fixed to the car. A bluetooth or other connection can also be used, provided the phone does not need to be physically held or touched. If you’d like to check out the exact Road Rule, we have included it at the end of this post.

Time and time again we, and the courts, hear that a person was only using their phone while stationary at traffic lights, only changing the song or trying to use GPS. These examples are all against the law. If you offer that excuse to a police officer then you are making an admission to the offence. These admissions that are often recorded by in car audio or body worn camera’s.

Loss of licence from mobile phone offences is more and more common. P1 drivers only have 4 points, so one offence will result in the suspension of their licence. While P2 driver’s have 7 points, one offence will take away most of their points. If it’s double demerits, P2 driver’s will lose their licence. There is, however, an avenue of appeal to the Local Court for any Provisional Driver who loses their licence due to demerit points or an excessive speeding offence. You can read more about it here.

Full licence holders typically have 13 demerit points for a three year period. Losing 5 demerit points (or 10 demerit points if it’s double demerits) is significant and may contribute to exceeding your demerit points and facing the suspension of your licence. If a full licencesed holder exceed’s their demerit points they do not have a right of appeal to the Local Court to challenge the suspension of their licence. They can however make a “court election” or go on a good behaviour licence. You can read more about these options here.

The driver of a vehicle must not use a mobile phone while the vehicle is moving, or is stationary but not parked, unless:

  • the phone is being used to make or receive an audio phone call or to perform an audio playing function and the body of the phone:
    • is secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle while being so used, or
    • is not secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle and is not being held by the driver, and the use of the phone does not require the driver, at any time while using it, to press any thing on the body of the phone or to otherwise manipulate any part of the body of the phone, or
  • the phone is functioning as a visual display unit that is being used as a driver’s aid and the phone is secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle, or
  • the vehicle is an emergency vehicle or a police vehicle, or
  • the driver is exempt from this rule under another law of this jurisdiction.

Maximum penalty: 20 penalty units.

Image Credit – Andriy Popov ©

Written by Trudie Cameron on August 3, 2018

Trudie is an Accredited Specialist in Criminal Law and practices exclusively in criminal and traffic law. Trudie defends clients charged with both state and commonwealth offences and appears on their behalf in Local and District Courts. Trudie has also instructed Counsel in the Supreme Court of New South Wales, New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal and the High Court. View Trudie's profile

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