$545 fine looms for drivers caught doing this in the car

·News Reporter
·4-min read

For many of us, portable TV screens or DVD units are a great way to keep the kids quiet and entertained while going for a long drive.

However, you could find yourself getting slapped with large fines and multiple demerit points should you get caught watching their screens instead of the roads.

Considered its just as dangerous as driving on your phone, being distracted by a TV unit can put both yourself, your passengers and other road users at considerable risk. So just how much could you be fined if you're caught?

young woman watching screen in rear of vehicle
Drivers distracted by TV screens could be fined and issued demerit points. Source: Getty Images

Eyes on the road

First and foremost, it is not illegal for rear passengers to have a TV screen and watch films while your vehicle is in motion.

Therefore, you don’t need to worry about the cops pulling you over if the kids are watching a movie contently in their seats.

However, if you opted to fix something in the front seats where the general infotainment system is based, then it’s an entirely different situation.

In the Australian Road Rules, Rule 299 states that drivers must not have a visual display unit that can distract the driver while either in motion or when stationary on an active road.

It’s a ruling that every Australian state has taken into their local set of road laws.

The rule can be applied to a driver even if they are sitting at a set of traffic lights or stuck in the middle of a nightmare peak hour traffic jam.

The only times drivers can be exempt from the rule are when they are using the screen as part of their jobs such as a taxi driver taking new jobs or bus drivers identifying their location.

View of display unit next to driver. Source: Getty Image
Some sates will issue up to four demerit points for drivers distracted by a display unit. Source: Getty Images

An endless array of penalties

With real potential for drivers to become distracted from the road, state authorities across Australia come down hard on anyone deemed to be watching a TV screen instead of the road.

Most states are likely to hand out both significant fines and demerit points to anyone who is caught in the act by the cops. The states which penalise drivers with fines and points include:

NSW: Drivers in New South Wales will find themselves staring at a couple of tough penalties. Any offenders will not only be issued with a $349 fine but also have three demerit points added to their licence.

VIC: Victoria has the harshest penalties for anyone distracted by a TV when behind the wheel. Drivers in The Garden State will get a $545 fine and four demerit points if they are caught in the act.

QLD: In Queensland, there are multiple penalties for offending drivers. While the $183 fine is not as harsh as some states, the three demerit points will give you a lot to think about.

WA: Western Australia has a very harsh stance towards drivers distracted by a TV unit. They will find themselves being given a $500 fine and have three demerit points added to their licence.

NT: In the Northern Territory, being distracted by a display unit whilst driving is a serious road offence. Drivers will be given a $500 fine and three demerit points by the cops.

However, you won’t find these tough penalties in every state across Australia. Some areas have opted to avoid dishing out demerits and just stick to a financial penalty instead. These areas include:

SA: South Australian drivers will cop a hefty fine if they are distracted by a display unit behind the wheel. Combined with the $92 levy for causing any offence, drivers will be slapped with a fine of $205.

Screen of installed car display unit. Source: Getty Images
Some states opt to fine drivers, but avoid issuing demerit points. Source: Getty Images

ACT: Whilst their neighbouring states issue double penalties, drivers in the ACT just have to deal with a fine of $252 if they are caught watching their display and not the road.

TAS: It’s Tasmania where the most lenient penalties for TV distractions can be found. Drivers caught not watching the road in The Apple Isle will face a fine of $173.

No matter what penalty you might receive, there is always an increased risk of an accident if you take your eyes off the road.

It’s why you are best to let the kids sit back and watch the movie while you focus on what lies ahead and avoid any unnecessary distractions.

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