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Driving? Do Not Use Your Phone! - Here's Why

By Mathai Joshi

It is common knowledge that you shouldn’t use your phone while your driving, at least for the obvious reason that it is extremely dangerous and unsafe conduct.

It is also a serious offence in Queensland, whether you are trying to change the song you are listening too or trying to use google maps on your phone; the use of your mobile phone whilst driving is an offence which carries significant penalties.  

The Queensland Government has recently taken steps to 'crack down' on this conduct by increasing monetary penalties and adding specialised fixed and sometimes portable cameras in an attempt to catch drivers.

Offence

In Queensland we have two main pieces of legislation which deals with traffic offences, this is the Transport Operations (Road Use Management - Road Rules) Regulations 2009 and the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995.

Under Regulation 300:

The driver of a vehicle must not use a mobile phone whilst the vehicle is moving, or is stationary but not parked.

The term 'use' refers to using a mobile phone, and a person is deemed to have 'used a mobile phone' if they do the following:-

  • If the driver holds the phone in their hand or;
  • Or rest the phone on any part of the driver's body - ie resting the phone on your lap

It is irrelevant if the phone is turned on or not operating, whether or not the purpose of operating the phone or function of the phone or whether the phone is partially or wholly supported by another part of the driver's body.

Penalty

Should you be charged with this offence you can face a fine of at least $1,033.88 as an individual or if you are charges in the capacity of a business vehicle $5,169.38.

Additionally you will receive a demerit point penalty of  four (4) demerit points,

Exceptions

Subsection 2) of the Regulations states the following exceptions:-

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to a driver using a mobile phone

(a) to the extent the mobile phone

(i) is in a pocket of the driver’s clothing, or in a pouch worn by the driver; and

(ii) kept in a way that—

does not allow the driver to operate the phone, or a function of the phone, other than by using only the driver’s voice; and

does not allow the driver to see the face of the phone while the phone, or a function of the phone, is operating; or

(b) while the vehicle is stationary and to the extent the mobile phone is in a wallet, or has attached to it a wallet, that the driver is using for any of the following purposes—

(i) to obtain and produce for inspection a licence, permit, authority or other document, as required under an Act or by a police officer or another person acting under an Act;

(ii) to obtain and use money, or another form of payment, to pay for goods or services, if the place where the vehicle is stationary is a place where the goods or services are lawfully paid for;

Example of a place for subparagraph (ii)—

a drive-through retail outlet

(iii) to obtain and use a card or other thing to enter a road-related area or land adjacent to a road-related area.

(3) Also, subsection (1) does not apply to a driver using a mobile phone while the vehicle is stationary for any of the following purposes—

(a) to produce for inspection a digital authority or other document stored on the phone, as required under an Act or by a police officer or another person acting under an Act;

(b) to pay for goods or services, if the place where the vehicle is stationary is a place where the goods or services are lawfully paid for;

Example of a place for paragraph (b)—

a drive-through retail outlet

(c) to use the phone as an electronic device that enables the driver to enter a road-related area or land adjacent to a road-related area.

(4) This section does not apply to the driver of an emergency vehicle or police vehicle.[1]

 

If the Police Charge you

If the Police charge you with this offence you will receive a Police infringement notice. You then have 28 days to do the following:-

  • Accept responsibility for the offence and pay the fine
  • Submit a declaration if you were NOT the driver at the time
  • Elect to contest the matter in the Magistrates Court.

The common question most people ask is will I lose my license? The short answer is yes, the way this happens is in the accumulation of demerit points.

If you are charged and convicted of this offence, you will receive 4 demerit points. If you accumulate enough demerit points you can lose your license as a result.

In this case the Department of Transport will issue you with a notice letter "Accumulation of Demerit Points". You then have the option of agreeing to the suspension of your license for a period of time or agree to continue driving under a good behaviour period of one year.

It is important that you notify the Department of your choice within the time frame as failing to do so can result in an automatic suspension of your license.

At Connolly Suthers our Crime Team regularly deals with cases like this.  If you are charged with a traffic or criminal offence make sure you give us a call and get the proper advice, it could be the difference between keeping or losing your license.

[1] Transport Operations (Road Use Management - Road Rules) Regulations 2009, Reg 300, Subsection (2)

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