Ask LH: Can The Police Bust Me For My Phone Cradle?

Hi Lifehacker, I was pulled over by the police the other day for a random breath test, and was told that I was not allowed to have a phone/cradle hooked up to my windscreen. According to the police, there is legislation that prohibits anything on the windscreen that limits the driver's view of the road. It sounds a bit strange to me, considering most legally purchased phone cradles, for GPS purposes, are suction-mounted to windscreens. Is this the law? Thanks, Full Vision

Phone holder picture from Shutterstock

Dear FV,

The laws surrounding screen mounts vary a little depending on the state that you're in, and that's something that we've covered here at Lifehacker previously. Most states do allow for the general use of hands-free cradles as a basic safety measure, but that has to be tempered against the fact that it's clearly going to be dangerous to have a screen mounted cradle in a position that actively interferes with your field of vision.

I can't see anything from a legal position that states it's an absolute no-no, but common sense should take precedence, and that may have been what the police in this case were alluding to. Anecdotally I've seen a few folk use cradles more or less directly in front of steering wheels, and that's a very bad idea indeed.

Cheers Lifehacker

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    Would love to know where FV lives, or if they were issues with an infringement notice.

    I've got a fly on my windscreen and the cops tried to do me for it. I phoned them up the next day and they said it was quashed.

    lets get this straight...

    you can have your phone and your gps on the windscreen, ANYWHERE it seems, but if you run aftermarket gauges, that are 2cm higher than the highest point of the dashboard, you will get put off the road?
    also, your bright GPS and phone screens are fine, but if you don't have your gauges hooked up to the dimmer of your interior lights, you can also get put off the road.

    now, this is silly.. i have seen someone with a gps right infront of where they are sitting, a little higher, but come on...
    apparently also them smelly trees you can get fined if you have them on your mirror, but not a GPS in the middle of the windscreen!!!

      yea, same goes for cars with modified suspension setups, that are safe as can can be, providing more control and feedback to the driver that cops pour over every detail of to find some minor infraction they can write the car off with and yet there are 30 year old rust buckets out there with pure orange leaf springs that look as if they'd disintegrate at the sight of a speed hump never mind a defensive driving manoeuvre in an accident

      good old today tonight and its sensationalist rubbish convincing everyone that people who take even the smallest interest in there car are dirty hoons and a blight on the roads

      Guages are permanent fixtures, GPS's are removable. Because of that gauges are required to comply with the various rules around roadworthy-ness of a car.

      If a GPS is obstructing your view, there are still infringements that could be handed out, but they're more generic, like dangerous driving, or something along those lines (depending on the state).

      The idea is that if a GPS is causing you distraction you can remove it, so you'll no longer be distracted by it. You can't do that with a permanent gauge.

      Just buy a turbo 200sx, factory pillar gauges!

        Only the grey imports, the ones sold through Nissan Australia had them removed to comply with ADRs.

    I digress a little but nothing annoys me more than some pensioners (not all) and other not so smart people, who have their GPS mounted smack bang in front of their eyes or somewhere else in the middle of the windscreen. They're the ones that should be fined!

    Not a lawyer, but there's this from the NSW Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Regulation 2007 s.42:

    (3) A television receiver, or visual display unit, and its associated equipment in a vehicle must be securely mounted in a position that:

    (a) does not obscure the driver’s view of the road

    The Act describes itself by saying that this is meant to be an Australia-wide standard.

    There's also the NSW RTA site, which says that:

    the mounting is fixed in a location that will not distract or obscure your view in any way

    Queensland and South Australia both say something similar, but I can't find a reference in Victoria. Tasmania and WA have their Internets too far away for me to search :)

      Yep, that's pretty much what I was saying above (I think). It's not clear from the initial query exactly where the screen mount was placed, so I was trying to politely write around it.

        I'm an "anonymous" commentator on a tech blog. What need have I for politeness? :)

    I have been previously informed by an officer of the law that GPS/Phone windscreen suctions are to be out of main line of sight (same as NSW law).
    The officer said the only place he will accept them is in on the dash itself (Vent holders) or the driver side bottom corner.

      Fortunately, the semi-morons who drop out of high school and then become pigs because they're too stupid to get into uni, don't get to make that call. They don't know the law: if you let them get away with pretending that they do, you're setting yourself up to be hosed every time.

      Using the term "officer of the law" is the sort of obeisance that they no longer deserve. They are the thug-enforcers for the opinions of the very worst people in society: politicians.

      If he had sought to ticket you, you should have let him know that you would contest it, and that for the purposes of your defence you should be permitted to take a take a photograph of the installation with the pig in shot, for evidentiary purposes.

    To digress slightly, does anyone know what the law is in Queensland regarding handsfree mobile phone use while driving? I recently heard that it is illegal to talk on your phone even if you pull over and turn your vehicle off. Not sure if this is true.

    I usually connect my iPhone to the Bluetooth speaker in my car. If it rings, I simply say 'answer' and the call connects, and I can talk handsfree. Is this allowed?

      Not a lawyer, but the answer seems to depend on your licence:

      If you're on your L's or P's, anything that broadcasts your conversation in a vehicle (including if you or a passenger switch a handset to speaker) is illegal:

    Im in Vic, and when pulled over at a booze bus I received a warning for having a GPS attached to the centre of windscreen at dash level...the officer said that to be safe it needs to be in an area that the wipers dont get to - like the bottom right hand corner

    You can also buy the little plastic circular 'dishes' that stick on to the dashboard and mount your suction cup GPS/Phone cradle to that. For some unknown reason, car manufacturers refuse to make flat surfaces on the dashboard so you have to resort to those. However, be careful with leaving your car out in the sun, I've melted two of the hard plastic 'dishes' to my dashboard, rendering them useless with the suction cup.

    I went to buy more on ebay and accidentally ended up with a sticky little plastic 'dish' thingo that is soft and jelly like and actually has adhesive on both sides so it grabs on to the dash and to the suction cup. It's awesome, doesn't melt and I can, if I want to, take the suction cup cradle off of it.

    I prefer having it on the dash because the dash is closer to my hands than the windscreen.

    I stumbled across Wheel Dock in the SMH a while ago and gave it a go for myself. Could only get online...Looks like an early start-up...
    Turns out Wheel Dock works well.... places the phone directly in front of me so I can use the phone much more easier.
    I thought about the chances of my airbag going off and reached the conclusion that the chances are practically zero... and even if it did, the safety strap built in appears strong enough so reckon will be ok. In any event, if I crash and airbags did go off I reckoned I'd have bigger problems from whatever it is that hit me. For $20, my phone holder issue is sorted. No more shitty suction cups...
    Haven't been pulled over yet, but couldn't find any laws that specifically disallow it. While some velcro is involved, the entire holder looks like it was professionally designed and its sold is kind of a loophole I reckon....

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