$116 fine threatens drivers who make this split-second decision

·News Reporter
·3-min read

We’ve all been there - we quickly nip out of the car with the engine running to grab some cash from the ATM or pick up something from a mate’s house whilst parked on the kerb.

However, that split second could be costly as leaving your car unattended with the ignition running or windows open could see you handed a hefty fine.

It’s a surprising result for an act that seems innocent enough and one that everyone has done at least once in their life. So just how much could you be fined for leaving you car unattended?

Man sitting at wheel of car gesturing in frustration. Source: Getty Images
Forgetting something important before you leave could be a grievous error. Source: Getty Images

Safety is security

Believe it or not, every state in Australia has rules that prevent people from leaving their car unattended while the engine is running.

This is because every state has adopted the ruling from the Australian Road Rules where Rule 213 states that it is illegal to leave your car unattended if:

  • The driver is 3m away or further from the vehicle if the engine is running.

  • The driver is 3m away or further with the handbrake left down.

  • The driver is 3m away or further from the vehicle and the car is unoccupied by anyone over the age of 16 with the keys in the ignition.

  • The driver is 3m away or further from the vehicle and the windows are open (2cm or more) or the doors are left open.

These rules only apply to vehicles left unsecured on the road, meaning that vehicles left in driveways or car parks are exempt from this punishment.

Furthermore, it is legal for some commercial vehicles to break these rules with rubbish trucks, food transport vehicles and cash deposit carriers all subject to the same restrictions.

An expensive mistake

Leaving your vehicle unattended won’t see your licence tainted with demerit points but most states will issue a financial penalty if you are caught off-guard.

These penalties vary from state to state with some states taking harsher approaches than others with some fines stretching into triple figures. If you do get caught, you could face:

NSW: For anyone caught breaking any part of rule 213, NSW authorities will offer an immediate fine of $116.

VIC: If anyone in Victoria is caught leaving their car unattended they will be issued with a $182 fine for their troubles.

Close up shot of slightly ajar car window. Source: Getty Images
Leaving your car window open more than 3cm will land you in a spot of bother. Source: Getty Images

QLD: Whilst breaking these rules could result in a max penalty of 20 penalty units ($2,740), the offence is often dealt with by authorities handing out a fine of one penalty unit, which is $137.

WA: In Western Australia, leaving your vehicle unattended will see you slapped with a $50 fine for your troubles.

TAS: Tasmanian authorities will give drivers an $83 fine if they are caught leaving their vehicle unsecured whilst the engine is running.

ACT: The harshest penalty for breaking Rule 213 can be found around Canberra where drivers are issued an immediate fine of $205 to ponder over.

NT: Drivers in the Northern Territory will find themselves punished under the General Rules section of the Road Safety Act and will be issued a fine of one penalty unit which is worth $157.

Whilst most of these fines won’t break the bank, knowing that you could be slapped with a financial penalty will make you think twice before you hurry out of your car with the engine still running.

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