Texting While Driving Will Cost You Six Demerit Points In NSW This Christmas

To paraphrase those old road safety ads, if you text and drive, you're a bloody idiot. Thankfully, the punishment for this crime is about to be doubled in NSW. During this year's holiday period, anyone caught using their phone behind the wheel in NSW will receive six demerit points on their licence -- up from the current penalty of three points. This means you will effectively lose half your full licence in one fell swoop. Hope that Facebook status update was worth it.

Driving with phone photo from Shutterstock

The six-point penalty will come into affect on December 24 and revert to normal on January 4. (The fine for the offence will remain unchanged, at $319.) Demerit points incurred in NSW stay on your record for 40 months: get caught once, and you can look forward to more than three years of overly careful, paranoid driving. (Which is probably a good thing.)

The motorists most affected by this change will be Learners and Provisional 1 licence holders who will lose their licences instantly due to the change in points. Provided they have no prior offences, P2 drivers will slip through with a single point remaining.

In announcing the change, NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay said he was taking a deliberately tough stance. "If I save your life, I've done you a favour," he said.

Personally, we welcome this news. You can argue that certain speeding offenses are stupid, but using a phone while driving is really inexcusable. If you get fined and ruin your Christmas, you only have yourself to blame.

The holiday demerits are just the beginning: in NSW, the penalty for using a mobile phone when not permitted will increase from three demerit points to four at the beginning of next year. Just desserts, we say.

[Via SMH]


    This is excellent news, I just hope they actually enforce it.

      When they are actively looking for them, sure. Any other time? LOL

    I'm pretty sure I already know the answer to this, but If I have my phone mounted in a cradle, would using it to make a call (not just receive) via bluetooth be illegal?

      As long as you're not a learner or P1 driver, no, it's not illegal.
      The caveat is that "driving without due care" is pretty much up to the officer so if you're playing with your cradled phone while doing 110 on the highway you'd be looking at up to a $2500 fine and 3 demerit points (in SA anyway). On the other hand I suspect they'd have a hard time fining you for driving without due care for using your cradled phone while stopped at the lights.

      Disclaimer: not a lawyer. Google the Road Traffic Act for your state

      Last edited 26/11/15 12:08 pm

      According to this, as long as the phone is in the cradle you are allowed to touch it to make calls. In NSW at least.


      Last edited 26/11/15 12:28 pm

        What i find interesting in those road rules is that there are no circumstances where you are allowed to text when driving, eg when calling there is provision to use it hands free

        "can be operated without touching any part of the phone, such as via Bluetooth or voice activation"

        .. however no provision to use text handsfree, eg I can activate siri via my car radio, it won't light up the screen, i can ask siri to send a text and she'll read it to me, again without lighting up the screen, but under NSW road rules, that is illegal, unless the argument that could be made that i was using my car stereo and not my phone to text(flimsy i know).

        What about smart watches, its not my phone, can i legally use it to send a text, make a call, are these sort of devices a bit of a grey area at the moment. (looking round the net at various sources, even lifehackers on post - http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2015/04/australian-police-expect-fines-if-you-use-your-smartwatch-while-driving/ - it varies - we all live in the same country, why can we make these rules the same accross the country)

        Last edited 26/11/15 1:25 pm

          I am in no way a lawyer, but it seems to me that "texting" is intentionally broad in the rules so that the act of sending an SMS is illegal, no matter how it was created (voice, smartwatch). Probably to push the grey areas in the laws favour.

          I must admit, until I read the full rules I thought that sending texts with Siri was ok in the same way making calls was when in the cradle. Now that I know I'll stop...

    Should be instant 12 month loss of license and impound of vehicle. There's literally no excuse for this kind of ignorance.

    3 strikes rule for repeat offenders. Lifetime loss of license.

    Hit 'em where it hurts I reckon.

      I agree; texting while driving is the greats a##hole act imaginable. Fast way to destroy lives, or put someone in a nursing home permanently...well, that's pretty much destroyed life too, except it takes decades.

    Good. This should be permanent. The number of near-misses I've seen on the road recently due to this is frustrating. It's easy to spot by the tell-tale head-bobbing of the driver switching their gaze between the road and the phone in their lap.

    And typically it seems to be P platers too. In my state at least, it's illegal for them to use their phone at all while driving, hands-free or not. Pity many don't seem to have received that memo.

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