While many understand the dangers of using mobile phones whilst driving, It is important to be aware of the penalty for this offence – and the repercussions for repeat offences – as both can now bring significant impact.
What is the official offence in Queensland for using a mobile phone while driving?
As of July 26th, 2021, it is illegal to hold a mobile phone in your hand or have it resting on any part of your body (such as your lap) when you are driving. This also applies when you are stopped in traffic.
The offence, under Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Regulations 2009, is stated under Regulation 300:
The driver of a vehicle must not use a mobile phone while the vehicle is moving, or is stationary but not parked.
What is considered “use” of a mobile phone?
In this instance, the “use” of a mobile phone is defined as:
driver of the vehicle is holding the phone in hand; or
driver of the vehicle is resting the phone on the body (i.e. in the lap).
The mobile phone does not have to be switched on or physically in use for the offence to be committed. Therefore the intentions or purpose of the mobile phone does not come into play when determining “use”, rather, the position of it in your hand or on the body.
What is the penalty?
If charged with this offence, a hefty fine can be imposed. For an individual, the fine is $1,033.88. Businesses or those in the capacity of a business vehicle face a fine of $5,169.88.
In addition, four (4) demerit point penalties will be accumulated.
Exceptions to the Offence
Regulation 300 also provides information when the offence does not apply.
The offence does not apply in the following circumstances:
to the extent the mobile phone—
is in a pocket of the driver’s clothing, or in a pouch worn by the driver; and
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
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—
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;
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;
to obtain and use a card or other thing to enter a road-related area or land adjacent to a road-related area;
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;
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;
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.
If you are charged by Queensland police for this offence, you have 28 days to:
Accept responsibility and pay the fine issued;
Declare that you were not the driver; or
Contest the matter in the Magistrates court.
With the introduction of new mobile phone and seatbelt cameras, the ability to contest mobile phone use, if accused, is substantially difficult.
Will I lose my licence?
You can lose your licence if you have accumulated demerit points. As previously stated - If you are charged and convicted of this offence, you will receive 4 demerit points.
If you have exceeded a certain number of demerit points you will receive an Accumulation of Demerit Points notice from the Department of Transport. You will be given the option of a temporary licence suspension or driving under good behaviour for one year.
You will have limited time to supply the Department of Transport with your choice. If no selection is chosen you can have your license suspended automatically as a result.
If you believe you have been mischarged or require a work or special hardship licence – Creevey Horrell Lawyer’s specialist Traffic Law team will be able to assist you.