When Is It Legal To Use Your Phone While Driving?

Driving with mobile phoneImage: iStock

NSW recently implemented a law that made it illegal for Learner, P1 and P2 licence holders to use a mobile phone at all while driving. That means they can't even use Google Maps for directions or use their phone to listen to music. But what about those who are on their full licence? We already know that it's illegal to hold your phone while you drive, even if you're not actively using it. Today, we look at what is and isn't legal when it comes to using a mobile phone when you hold a full licence across Australia.

Road rules across all states regarding mobile phone usage while driving are pretty stringent, especially when it comes to those who carry a restricted licence. But there are exceptions for people who have their full licence.

If you hold an unrestricted licence, it is legal to use a phone to make or receive calls only if the device is secured in a commercially designed and manufactured mounting device. This applies to using the phone as a GPS navigator as well. You aren't meant to touch the screen at all but in South Australia: "[i]f a person wishes to make or receive a call, including dialling a number, and needs to touch the phone (including its keypad) in order to do so, the phone must be mounted".

So how are you meant to make or receive calls if you can't touch your phone? Well, you are allowed to use hands-free accessories such as Bluetooth headsets to help you answer the phone without touching the device. You can even do this if you have a Bluetooth-enabled system that is built into your vehicle.

Texting and emailing (including reading messages) are still strictly prohibited.

These rules are consistent across all states and applies even if you're stopped in traffic. Fines and demerit points for violating mobile phone laws vary from state to state:

State Fine Demerit points
NSW $320 ($433 in School Zone) 4
VIC $466 4
QLD $365 3
ACT $416 4
SA $320 (excluding $60 victim of crime levy) 3
WA $400 3
NT $250 3
TAS $300 3

Did you just catch yourself wondering if something was legal or not? Let us know and we may be able to answer it in our next Is It Legal? feature.


Comments

    i've seen plenty of young'ins slowly drift outside of their lane when using their phone and driving, so perhaps this is a good thing.

      I've seen equally as many oldies doing exactly the same thing, in fact the soccer mums just before school pickup in the afternoon are normally the worst drivers when it comes to tailgating and straying out of their lanes or braking because they weren't paying attention and got too close to the car in front.

    His steering wheel is on the wrong side of the car.

      Looking at those hands I'd say he is a she.

        how dare you assume that persons gender...

    as a GPS or connected to my stereo via bluetooth for Music, can i use my phone in my Car in Queensland on Learners or P1/P2

    With all those fines over $300 (except NT) how come the state governments aren't rolling in money? Not a day goes by when I'm in my car that I don't see at least half a dozen folk with their hand clutching something near their ear (or maybe we've got a epidemic of 'Itchy Ear' in Australia).

    After a bad experience using hands free in a car talking to a customer (end of day, tired, lost track of where I was, went through a red light...) I'll never use a phone of any kind while driving again.

    So it's ok to use a map, as long as it isn't on your phone? What about other devices? Does 'while driving' include any time the engine is on, even if you are parked on the side of the road? (asking because I thought that was the case in some states)

    Last edited 13/12/16 2:59 pm

    I'm interested to see where the law stands with smartwatches, as I can receive & make calls on my watch, use maps,read txts, get social media updates ect. whilst driving.

    Controlling a vehicle correctly requires 100% ATTENTION.
    Accepting a driving licence is a privilege to drive, not a right and is an agreement to comply with the RULES
    & ROAD LAWS.
    Not complying with those rules and laws, eg driving faster than the posted limit is operating a dangerous machine which a driving licence does not cover -- a police officers licence allows it as does all emergency vehicle drivers licences.
    Fines are NOT to fill government coffers, they are to cover extra work, extra wages and other costs involved in attending to incidents of vehicle collisions, crashes, protecting the injured and having to tell parents/relatives that a family member/s is dead, and those who complain about being fined should be with an officer when he/she tells the family.

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