Busted: On The Phone While Driving? 

September 28, 2022
caught on the phone while driving

Driving while on the phone is dangerous and illegal. Run a Google news search for ‘driving while texting’ and you’ll find article after article about tragic car accidents – caused by phone use – resulting in severe injury or even death. Being busted on the phone while driving could save your life or that of others. 

If you are caught by police or mobile phone detection cameras, you’ll face a costly fine. 

Why Are The Rules In Place? 

Research shows that using a mobile phone while you’re driving a vehicle distracts you. Your eyes and attention are off the road, and your response time drops. If you need to do something quickly, like brake, your response time is slower. 

This means the risk of an accident is greater than usual. In fact, according to Transport NSW, at 60 km/h if you look at your phone for just two seconds while driving, you travel 33 metres blind.  

According to September 2020 data, there have been 202 casualty accidents involving a driver or rider using a mobile phone since 2012. These resulted in 18 deaths and more than 270 injuries. That number has undoubtedly increased since then. 

The NSW Government has put in place a series of measures to decrease the road toll. This includes mobile phone detection cameras. 

What Are The NSW Penalties?


There are significant penalties in NSW for using a mobile phone illegally while driving. In 2020, the fines issued in NSW for mobile phone-related offences totalled more than $60.7 million. Keep reading to find out the rules. 

  • If you’re a full licenced driver and are caught using a mobile phone illegally, you’ll be fined $362 and lose 5 points.   
  • Learner and provisional drivers face the same consequences if they’re using a phone at all while they’re driving.  
  • If you’re caught in a school zone, the fine increases to $481 – the number of points remains the same. 

At certain times of the year – such as long weekends or holiday periods – double demerit points apply to illegal use of phones. This means you could lose your licence, and this could have various consequences you might not have considered. 

Most of all – remember that breaking the law can have terrible repercussions for you, your passengers, and others on the road. 

Let’s Look At The Rules 

  • It’s illegal to video call, text, email, browse social media or the web, or take photos unless you’re parked. You’re also not permitted to hold and use a phone while driving. 
  • Learner and provisional licence holders cannot use their phone at all while driving. This includes:
    • making or receiving calls
    • using the music or other functions, or 
    • using it as a driver’s aid (for example, as navigation). 
  • Licence holders who are unrestricted:
    • can make/receive calls and use music and other audio functions as long as the phone:
      • is securely placed into a mount or cradle that’s attached to the car, or 
      • can be operated without touching the phone (eg via Bluetooth). 
    • Can use the phone as a driver’s aid only if it’s secure in a cradle. Keep in mind that this is still distracting so pay full attention to the traffic conditions at all times. 
  • Regardless of whether you hold a restricted or unrestricted Iicence, you can only access a digital driver’s licence only after you’re asked to by a police officer. 
  • These rules also apply if you’re stopped in traffic or at a traffic light, for example. 

There are fixed and moveable roadside cameras across NSW. According to the NRMA, the roadside cameras are high-definition and use artificial intelligence to spot drivers regardless of the time of day or the weather, including fog and heavy rain. 

Challenging A Fine 

If you receive a penalty notice and think a mistake has been made (for example, someone else was driving or it’s a case of mistaken identity), you can request a review of the driving charge through Revenue NSW. The important thing is to deal with the penalty notice by the due date even if you intend to challenge the fine, otherwise an additional amount could be added to the fine. 

If this challenge is unsuccessful, you can choose to have the fine heard in court. 

Unsure Of Your Next Steps? 

Contact us at CM Law and we’ll help you with the process. 

Thank you for reading this article, please note that this content is accurate at the time of posting but is not updated regularly. The content throughout this site should be viewed as informational and informative but not considered legal advice. We cannot guarantee that any of the information on the website is current and laws are regularly changing. For more accurate information or to obtain proper legal advice, please contact our office today.

Speak to a Lawyer
Complete confidentiality 100% guaranteed. Take a look at our privacy policy.