When Is It Legal To Use Your Phone While Driving?

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.

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