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Using a Mobile Phone While Driving Could Cost You Your Licence Over the Holiday Period

The holiday season is one of the busiest and riskiest times of the year to be on Australian roads. Often, this is due to factors such as motorists driving long distances or a higher number of drivers under the influence of alcohol.1 In NSW, the road toll over the 2017 Christmas / 2018 New Year holiday period was double that of the previous year, with 28 people dying on the roads.2

One in 10 fatalities on Australia’s roads involves mobile phone use, and the number of drivers caught on their phones has risen 18 per cent since 2014-15.3

Now if you’re caught using your mobile phone while driving in NSW over Christmas, you could lose up to 10 demerit points, an extra demerit point from the previous penalty.
NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury told Ten News First: “if you get caught over the Christmas period and you’ve been caught before you are almost certainly going to lose your licence.”

Demerit points and penalties for mobile phone use differ from state to state but almost all double over the holiday season. 4

When is it legal to use your phone while driving? When is it illegal?

It is illegal to hold your phone in any way while driving, including on your lap or between your shoulder and ear. As a driver, you’re only allowed to hold your phone while passing it to a passenger.

It’s also illegal to use your mobile phone while driving for any other function such as texting, e-mailing, taking photos or using social media.5

Don’t lose your licence

Think you won’t get caught? Nearly 850 drivers per week are busted using their mobile phones, with 15 percent not making an effort to limit their time on the phone. The last financial year has seen nearly 42,000 fines issued by police officers. 6

Law enforcement also has some crafty ways of catching offenders. In November 2018, police in Nunawading, Victoria posed as windscreen washers in order to catch motorists on their phones. The sting resulted in 38 fines likely totalling $18,000. 7

Your best bet is to stay off your phone and not risk your licence.

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Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: November 28, 2018.

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