How using this new technology in the car could cost you $650

·News Reporter
·4-min read

Smart phones have transformed our lives in a myriad of ways - now we can even leave our wallets at home and pay for a drive-thru meal at Macca's with a quick tap.

However, this handy shortcut could actually land you in significant trouble as more and more state authorities are clamping down on drivers using this new technology behind the wheel.

Using your phone to pay for drive-thru meals may seem harmless as you are quite a distance from other road users, but the majority of states don’t see this as an excuse. But just how much trouble could you be in?

A woman pays for a food order with her phone through a car window. Source: Getty Images
Paying with your phone for a drive-thru order could actually cost you much more than you anticipated. Source: Getty Images

The changing face of mobile phone rules

Knowing how ever-present mobile phones are in our daily lives, it’s not particularly surprising that authorities are clamping down on mobile use in a range of areas.

Every state in Australia clearly defines how mobile phones should be used with the Australian Road Rules underlining in Rule 300 that drivers must only use devices if it is:

  • Secured to a mounting affixed to the vehicle when used

  • Not being held by the driver or for them to use the device with any part of their body

  • Functioning as a driver’s aid as a visual display unit

This clears drivers to use their phones as long as they have access to a Bluetooth carrier to take calls as well as use it for navigational purposes.

A driver accepts a food order through the car window. Source: Getty Images
An unexpected fine could make that drive-thru order you've been craving much more expensive. Source: Getty Images

However, some states have added to these rulings to forbid using devices for payment when behind the wheel. For example, Victoria has gone out of their way to make this clear to drivers stating:

  • All other functions including social networking, shopping, and share economy apps are prohibited.

  • Using a hand-held aid is illegal when your vehicle is stationary but not parked.

It’s a ruling that has been taken on board across Australia except for two states: New South Wales and Queensland. In these states, drivers are given exemptions when at a drive-thru.

This is because these states class drive-thrus as off-road areas where drivers are allowed to use their phones as long as the vehicle is stationary.

For P-platers and new drivers, there is no leeway though, as these laws are only applied to drivers with a full licence, and zero-tolerance is given to anyone caught with their phone while on their green or red plates.

A much more expensive meal

As you would expect, there are some extremely severe penalties waiting for anyone caught breaking mobile phone laws with hefty fines and plenty of demerit points awaiting offending drivers.

Some of the weighty penalties that could be lurking for drivers include:

VIC: A $545 fine and four demerit points for any illegal mobile phone use.

A young man looking sad in his car. Source: Getty Images
A fine of several hundred dollars could be coming your way if you use a mobile phone in a drive thru. Source: Getty Images

SA: The most expensive fine on the list with a $554 fine and $92 Victims of Crime Levy adding to a combined penalty of $646. The charge also comes with four demerit points added to your licence too.

WA: For drivers in WA, the fines have been increased in recent months. Touching your phone while not in a cradle now comes with a $500 fine and three demerit points added to your licence.

TAS: In Tasmania, any driver using their mobile phone will find themselves issued with a $346 fine and three demerit points for their trouble.

NT: Police in the NT will issue a flat $500 fine and three demerit points for anyone caught breaching any regulations related to using mobile devices.

ACT: The ACT has a base fine of $416 and three demerit points for anyone using their mobile phone whilst driving. However, if you are thought to be accessing apps or the internet, the penalties increase to a $511 fine and four demerit points.

These are some hefty penalties involved for drivers using their phones even in areas that you might think are safe from full road regulations.

If you are unsure about whether you are breaching a rule, either bring your physical card with you or park up and head inside the restaurant itself.

This then prevents a quick trip to Macca's costing the same as you and the entire family dining out in the most lavish restaurant in the city.

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