Outrage is brewing over an image that appears to show a NSW sheriff using his phone while behind the wheel of a car.
Hundreds of people expressed their disapproval after the photo, taken in the Sydney CBD, was shared to Facebook on Tuesday.
The witness claimed the sheriff was stopped at a red light at an intersection when the photo was taken.
The act was described as "hypocrisy at its best" by annoyed social media users, many of who recalled receiving hefty fines for touching their phone while driving.
"They fine and penalise us when we use a phone behind the wheel, they should have the same law that applies to them as well," one person asserted in a comment.
They argued "there cannot be double standards" and the sheriff should be following the same rules that applied to other road users.
"They are not above the law. They have radios, a partner and a PC in the vehicle there is no excuse for them using mobile phones while driving," someone else wrote.
Some speculated the sheriff was either operating Google Maps or photo sharing app SnapChat based on what was visible in the photo.
Others joked he could have been ordering some food or drinks.
Driver sent infringement notice
Many correctly informed the person behind the post that phones were allowed to be used by people operating emergency vehicles, such as police officers.
NSW Police confirmed the person shown in the photo was not a police officer.
Drivers of police vehicles in NSW are allowed to use their phone while driving in case they "need to receive information about a job over their mobile phones for operational reasons", NSW Police previously confirmed.
"That's not to say officers have an excuse to breach the rules in every circumstance - where possible, they will comply with all road rules".
The Department of Communities and Justice confirmed the sheriff was in the wrong and revealed he had made contact with the police to accept a penalty.
"The state’s laws on mobile phone use while driving are there to save lives," a spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia.
"The Sheriff’s Officer involved has acknowledged his wrongdoing, contacted NSW Police and accepted an infringement notice."
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