How this friendly gesture while driving could cost you $357

When you pass a friend on the road, it can be all too tempting to pop your hand out of the window to give a friendly wave as you go past to acknowledge their presence.

However, this friendly gesture could come back to haunt you if the cops catch you as this is surprisingly an illegal act in the eyes of the law.

What might seem like an innocent action can also be classed as endangering the lives of others on the road and strict penalties await anyone caught in the act. So just how much could a friendly wave cost you?

A man waves to a couple from a car. Source: Getty Images
A friendly wave from you car could end up costing you hundreds in fines. Source: Getty Images

Limbs on the line

In the eyes of the law, anyone in a moving vehicle who sticks any body part out of a window finds themselves in hot water as it is an illegal act in all parts of Australia.

It is all covered by part 3 of Rule 268 in the Australian Road Rules which states that it’s illegal for anyone to stick any body parts out of a moving vehicle – no matter if they are the driver or passenger.

A man smiles in a car. Source: Getty Images
It's probably best to smile rather than wave when driving past a friend. Source: Getty Images

Drivers potentially face a double penalty as part 4 of the rule explicitly punishes drivers in control of a moving vehicle for passengers sticking a limb out of a window.

There are two exceptions where the drivers can issue a hand signal if they are:

  • Signalling a right-hand turn

  • Stopping or slowing suddenly

It’s worth knowing how to use these signals effectively to avoid getting a penalty if the police are lurking nearby.

An expensive error

If you do get caught with an arm out of your car or driving a vehicle with someone else doing it, then there are a host of penalties coming your way.

The offence is punishable with both fines and demerit points depending on which state you are driving in. Those that issue both penalties for the offence include:

NSW: Authorities in NSW punish flailing limbs pretty heavily with the offender getting a fine of $357 and three demerit points if you do it whilst driving. If a passenger gets caught doing it whilst you are driving, you don’t escape punishment as you will also be issued with a $357 fine as well as three demerit points.

SA: South Australia are quite strict with their penalties with offenders given a $293 combined fine and three demerit points if you do this while driving. Drivers with offending passengers also face a $293 fine and three demerit points for their troubles.

WA: The punishments in WA are much softer than in eastern states with offenders issued a $50 and one demerit point if driving. The same penalties apply to drivers if their passengers are caught in the act by police.

Some states opt not to issue demerit points to offending parties but there are still hefty fines to deter anyone caught by the police. The penalties in other states include:

VIC: Anyone caught with a body part illegally protruding from a window will be given a $182 fine as will any drivers who are behind the wheel while a passenger is caught breaking the rule.

ACT: Anyone in Canberra caught unnecessarily waving their arms out of a window faces a $205 fine as do any drivers caught with passengers breaking this law.

TAS: One of the more lenient states on the issue, Tasmania issues a fine of $130 for anyone caught with limbs outside of the window and drivers face the same punishment as their passengers if the vehicle is in motion.

NT: It’s also an offence in the Northern Territory where it can be punished under the general offences rule which punishes offenders with one penalty unit that equates to $157.

With such harsh penalties at stake for such a simple action, it could make you think twice about waving to passing friends the next time you cross paths on the road.

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