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This article was written by Sally Crosswell

Sally Crosswell has a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), a Bachelor of Communication and a Master of International and Community Development. She also completed a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the College of Law. A former journalist, Sally has a keen interest in human rights law.

New Mobile Phone Rules For Drivers (WA)


From September 2020, drivers in Western Australia were restricted from using their phone in any way other than to make an audio call. The Road Traffic Code 2000 was amended based on the safety risk of the driver taking their eyes off the road, their attention away from the task of driving, and their hands off the steering wheel.

The law

Regulation 265(2) of the code makes it an offence for the driver of a vehicle to use a mobile phone while the vehicle is moving, or stationary but not parked, unless:

  • the phone is being used to make or receive an audio call and the phone is secured in a mount affixed to the vehicle;
  • the phone is not secured in a mount and is not being held by the driver, and the use of the phone does not require the driver to touch it at any time;
  • the visual display of the phone is being used as a driver’s aid and the use of the phone does not require the driver to touch it at any time;
  • all of the following apply:
    • the vehicle is an on-demand vehicle (such as a taxi);
    • the phone is being used to accept, confirm the start of, or cancel a booking;
    • the phone is secured in a mount affixed to the vehicle;
    • the driver is not in a restricted area (such as a school zone);
    • it is safe in the circumstances for the driver to use the phone.

“Use” of a phone means to:

  • hold it, including to rest it on the driver’s lap;
  • enter or place anything into it;
  • send anything or look at anything in it;
  • turn it on or off;
  • operate any other function of it.

Penalties

If a driver touches or holds a mobile phone to make, receive or end a voice call, and the phone is not in a cradle, they will incur a $500 fine and 3 demerit points. If this offence is committed during a holiday period, 6 demerit points are incurred.

If a driver uses the phone in a way that is not to make or receive an audio call, including to type, send or look at a text message or email; to create, send or view a video or photo; or to make or receive a video call; they will incur a $1000 fine and 4 demerit points. If this offence is committed during a holiday period, 8 demerit points are incurred. Before the code was amended, the fine was $400.

If a driver accumulates all of their demerit points at once due one of these offences, they will receive an Excessive Demerit Points Notice. The driver can choose to serve the licence suspension or opt for a “double or nothing” 12-month good behaviour period and continue to drive in lieu of serving the licence suspension. To be eligible for the good behaviour period, the driver must have been served personally, hold a current valid Western Australian driver’s licence (not provisional), and apply to the  Department of Transport within 21 days of being served the notice.

The rationale for the amendment

Mobile phone use while driving is one of the most prevalent behaviours that cause driver distraction. In Western Australia in 2020, 20 road deaths resulted from inattention-related crashes. Between 2016 and 2020, 524 people were killed or seriously injured as a result of inattention-related crashes.

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