New Phone Laws in WA
The State of Queensland recently introduced a $1,000 fine and 4 demerit points for anyone caught using their phone while driving.
From 1 July 2020, Western Australia will also impose a $1,000 fine and 4 demerit points. This will apply to anyone caught texting, emailing, using social media, watching videos or accessing the internet while driving.
Anyone caught touching their mobile phone while stopped at traffic lights, or taking a phone call while holding their phone will face a $500 fine and 3 demerit points.
What does the law currently say?
Currently, regulation 265 of the Road Traffic Code 2000 says that ‘a driver of a vehicle must not use a mobile phone while a vehicle is moving, or is stationary but not parked’. The penalty for the offence is currently a $400 fine and 3 demerit points.
What does ‘use’ mean?
Using your phone means a number of things – including:
- Holding a phone;
- Resting a phone on any part of your body – for example resting in your lap;
- Entering or placing anything into a phone;
- Sending or looking at anything in a phone;
- Turning a phone on or off;
- Operating any other function of a phone.
The above may include but are not limited to making calls, choosing or changing music, texting, sending emails, using social media, looking at videos or photos, using the internet, or setting up maps/navigation.
For the purposes of the offence ‘use’ of a phone involves situations where you are using a phone while the vehicle is being driven and is actually moving. However the ‘use’ of a phone also includes using a phone while your vehicle is stationary but not parked – for example if you are pulled over at the side of the road, or sitting at traffic lights.
Learn what constitutes Carless Driving in Western Australia.
What is NOT using your phone?
You will not be using your phone in a way that breaches the law if:
- The vehicle you are in is stationary and parked;
- The phone is not in your hand or on your lap;
- You are receiving a phone call, or a text, email or similar communication and the phone is secured in a mounting or holder that is affixed to the vehicle; and you do not at any time press anything on the phone or otherwise manipulate any part of the phone;
- You are receiving a phone call, or a text, email or similar communication (but your phone is not secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle) and you are not holding your phone and you do not at any time press anything on the phone or otherwise manipulate any part of the phone;
- The visual display of the phone is being used as a drivers’ aid (such as navigation) and it is secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle and you do not press anything on the phone or manipulate any part of the phone;
- You are a taxi driver and the visual display of the phone is displaying work-related information such as maps or dispatch systems;
Can I still use my hands free?
You can use your hands free to make calls, provided the phone is in a holder or you do not hold or touch your phone in any way while making the call.
Can I still listen to music on my phone?
Yes you can still listen to music – but you cannot touch your phone in any way. You should have your music selected before you start driving, or utilise the control buttons on your steering wheel to change songs.
What about using maps/navigation?
You can use maps or other navigation on your phone because it is a ‘drivers aid’. However – the phone must be secured in a mounting affixed to your vehicle and you still cannot press anything on your phone or touch your phone in any way. You should have your navigation set up before you start driving your vehicle.
What happens if I get caught using a phone while driving and accumulate all of my demerit points?
If you are caught using a phone while driving and it means that you accumulate all your demerit points you will be served with an Excessive Demerit Points Notice (EDPN). This means you will have two options:
- Serve a 3, 4 or 5-month licence suspension (depending on the number of points accumulated), or
- ‘Double or Nothing’ - undertake a 12-month good behaviour period. You can continue to drive during this period, however you cannot accumulate more than one demerit point or commit any offence which results in a licence disqualification. If you do – your original suspension period will be doubled and you must serve that suspension period. If you choose to elect to undertake ‘double or nothing’ you must do so within 21 days of your EDPN.
You will not be eligible for an Extraordinary Drivers Licence if you lose your licence due to demerit points.
We can Help
Andrew Williams represents clients in all courts for criminal and traffic related charges. As an experienced traffic lawyer, Andrew is passionate about attaining the best possible outcome for his clients. He is a phone call away and will provide sensible, easy to understand legal advice as well as committed and determined representation on all traffic and driving related matters.