A number of our clients have been asking about the implementation of mobile phone detection cameras in New South Wales the use of which commenced on 1 December.
Although the NSW Government has been trialling these cameras between January 2019 and June 2019 there has been very little public awareness information provided by the Government to help drivers understand the new rules.
Many of our clients have expressed the belief that the new rules mean that you can’t touch a mobile phone for any purpose while you are driving. This is not correct. The new rules differ in the treatment of mobile phone use depending on whether you are an unrestricted licence holder or a learner or provisional licence holder.
Unrestricted licence holders
Unrestricted licence holders can make or receive audio phone calls, use music or audio functions and use driver’s aids such as navigation and speed adviser apps by touching the phone if the phone is secured in a commercially manufactured cradle fixed to the vehicle or if the phone can be operated without touching any part of the phone (for example by Bluetooth). Unrestricted licence holders are prohibited from holding the phone while driving to access any of these features.
Using other functions such as payment apps, access to area apps or the like can only be used if the car is stationary and off the line of traffic such as in a carpark, driveway or drive through.
Learner and provisional licence holders
These licence holders may not use a mobile phone for any purpose while driving including a phone that is mounted in a cradle or a phone that can be accessed using Bluetooth functions only. Making or receiving calls, using music or audio functions or using driver’s aids such as navigation or the like are all prohibited for learner and provisional licence holders.
It is important to note that texting or emailing is prohibited for all drivers whether unrestricted or restricted licence holders. If you want to use your phone for these functions, your vehicle must be parked out of the line of traffic.
Digital driver’s licences
As it is illegal to handle and use your mobile phone while driving, if you are stopped by police don’t reach for your phone to show your licence until the police officer asks you to do so.
For the first 3 months of operation the NSW Government will issue warning letters rather than fines for those detected using their camera. Fines and demerit point penalties will apply after the 3 month grace period. The fine for illegal mobile phone use is presently $344 or $457 if detected in a school zone. There is a 5 demerit point penalty for illegal use and this increases to 10 demerit points during double demerit periods.
If you or anyone you know requires more information in relation to these issues please contact us on (02) 9525 8688.