Photo of woman 'using phone while driving' sparks furious debate

Olivia Lambert
·News Editor
·4-min read

A woman who copped a hefty fine for allegedly using her mobile phone while driving has dismissed the claim as a photo of the incident sparked a furious debate online.

Steff Doney was caught allegedly holding her mobile phone to her right ear while driving southbound on the Wakehurst Parkway at Ingleside, in Sydney's north, in December last year. 

She was snapped holding her hand to her face by a new portable camera and fined $349 and five demerit points. 

A mobile phone camera snaps a photo of Steff Doney while she is driving.
Steff Doney was fined for allegedly using her mobile phone while driving. Source: A Current Affair

Ms Doney told A Current Affair however, she was sitting with her elbow on the car window and resting her hand on her face, and said if she was using her mobile phone more of her hand would have been covered in the image snapped by the camera. 

She also sent her phone log to Revenue NSW to show she had not been on a call, but to no avail. 

"I've been on the road for 20 years and I've never lost a point, and now it's going to take me 10 years to get that clean record back so I'm pretty disappointed," she told the program.

Ms Doney said it was a habit to rest her arm on the door while driving.

"I would definitely say to others just be careful, make sure you've got two hands on the wheel," she said. 

Photo sparks furious online debate

Drivers in their thousands commented on the photo on Facebook, divided over whether the woman deserved to cop the fine or not. 

"You can clearly see she was holding something that appeared to be a phone. How dumb does she think everyone is?" one commented on A Current Affair's Facebook page. 

"Some people need [their] eyes tested ... Just was one of those days, we all can relate but clearly she had a phone," another said.

A comparison photo shows Steff Doney's hand more obstructed by a phone (right) than it is in the image taken by the mobile phone camera (left).
Steff Doney created a comparison image to show her hand would be obstructed if she was using her phone. Source: A Current Affair

"She is totally holding a phone. Her fingers are wrapped around it in the police photo ... the giveaway is the dead straight thumb line and also the missing piece of her palm which is obstructed by the phone," a third insisted. 

"If she wasn't on the phone how come you can't see the rest of her palm and fingers?" another agreed. 

However, others were certain the woman had just been resting her hand against her face.

"I see a void and her fingers. I agree it seems inconclusive ... photos aren't clear enough to warrant punishment. They should have irrefutable proof before issuing fines, which I don't think this is," one said. 

"I'm shocked by how many people think she has a phone in her hand. I can see clearly there is no phone," another stated. 

"The fact that some people are shocked by my view and think there clearly is a phone in her hand means it is open to opinion."

In a statement to Yahoo News Australia Revenue NSW said it would continue to work with Ms Doney.

"Revenue NSW will continue to work with this customer for her best options including provision of further evidence or taking this matter to court," it said. 

Anybody who disagrees with the findings of a review has the right to take a matter to court. 

Fines for using mobile phones while driving

Motorists in NSW risk a $349 fine and five demerit points if they are caught using their phone, while those in the ACT are fined $470 and four demerit points. 

In Victoria, drivers are whacked with a $455 fine and four demerit points while West Australians are slugged with a $500 fine and three demerit points. 

Those using a phone in South Australia can expect a $544 fine and three demerit points and Tasmanians are fined $300 and three demerit points. 

Using your phone in the Northern Territory comes with a $500 fine and three demerit points, while Queensland will whack motorists with a $1000 fine and four demerit points. 

Yahoo News Australia has contacted Revenue NSW for comment. 

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