Can I use my phone while driving?
In Queensland it is an offence for a driver to “use” a mobile phone they are holding in their hands while their vehicle is moving or stationary but not parked.
“Use” includes holding the phone to your ear, sending or reading a text message, turning on or off a phone or “operating any other function of the phone” (using apps like Google Maps).
This means you can use a blue tooth or hands free device. The exception to this is when you are a driver under the age of 26 and driving on your provisional or learner’s license. These drivers cannot use their mobile phones at all (even if it is being used via a blue tooth or hands free device).
Both these offences carry a 3 demerit point penalty as well as a standard fine of $353 (although the size of the fine can be increased in some circumstances).
What kind of penalty will I be given for this offence?
Usually you will be issued with an on-the-spot infringement notice that will contain a fine and demerit point penalty.
These offences typically carry a 3 demerit point penalty as well as a standard fine of $353 (although the size of the fine can be increased in some circumstances).
On 1 September 2015 a new law was introduced to increase the penalty for repeat offenders of the mobile phone offences outlined above. This new regulation imposes 3 additional demerit points (for a total of 6 points) on a driver caught for mobile phone offences within a year of a previous offence under the same sections.
In rare circumstances you may be charged with the more serious offence of dangerous operation of a vehicle under section 328A of the Criminal Code Queensland.
Can I challenge my infringement notice for using my phone while driving?
It is possible to challenge infringement notices by filling out the “Election for Court” section on the back of your notice and sending it to the address provided on the notice. This must be done within 28 days of the notice being issued.
It is always advisable to obtain some legal advice before electing to dispute a notice. Once the matter has been referred to the court system you may be required to pay additional costs if you are unsuccessful in disputing the notice.
Some of these fees can include:
- any court fees;
- costs incurred by the prosecutor in calling witnesses at the final hearing;
- the offender levy; and/or
- costs for having a solicitor represent you at the hearing.
Additionally, challenging an infringement notice can be a lengthy process requiring numerous court dates.