Wife baffled over $362 fine for technicality: 'Can't get you for that'

The reason for the fine has sparked a debate among other Aussie motorists online.

A woman is seeking advice after her husband was slapped with a $362 fine over a split-second decision behind the wheel that has ignited a heated debate among Aussie motorists.

The seemingly baffled NSW resident said her husband also copped five demerit points for using his mobile phone while driving, but argued it was in the cradle at the time and he was simply touching it to check “the navigation near the exit”.

“We requested to review it but they said you can’t touch the phone for any reason while driving,” she posted in a Facebook group dedicated to mobile phone detection cameras. The woman said after conducting some research online, she pushed authorities on whether it was legal to answer a phone call or check a navigation app while driving.

The speed camera image of the driver touching his phone, which resulted in the fine. Right is a stock image of a speed camera on the side of an Aussie road.
The woman said her husband received a $362 fine and five demerit points for touching his phone while using a navigation app (left). Source: Facebook/AAP (file)

“But they said if we need to touch the phone we definitely need to stop the car and touch the phone,” she said, adding she was also informed “the only way to answer a call” is to use a button on the steering wheel or a Bluetooth headset.

An attached photo from the fine shows the man’s four fingers resting on the back of his mobile phone as it sits in the cradle. He appears to be using his thumb to tap the screen.

Mobile phone fine sparks debate

The woman’s online post has sparked a lively debate among other motorists, many of which said the message to not use your phone while driving is “bright clear”.

“How doesn’t everyone know this by now?” one person commented, while another agreed it seemed “pretty straight forward”. “If you’re going to touch your phone, use a single finger. Can’t get you for that. There’s no need to hold the phone,” they added.

However, others staunchly disagreed and urged the couple to fight the fine in court. “You can touch the phone for answering calls and navigation, as long as it’s fixed on a mount,” one person said.

A police officer operates a mobile speed camera from the back of a van on the Pacific Highway on the Gold Coast.
In NSW, unrestricted licence holders can use a driver’s aid such as a navigation app only if the phone is secured in a cradle fixed to the car. Source: AAP

Can you touch your phone while driving?

In NSW, unrestricted licence holders can use a driver’s aid such as a navigation app only if the phone is secured in a cradle fixed to the car, according to the state’s Centre for Road Safety.

They can also make or receive a call or use music functions only if the phone is secured in a cradle fixed to the car or can be operated without touching any part of the phone. Learner and provisional licence holders are not allowed to do any of the above.

“Using a mobile phone legally can still be distracting. Consider the traffic conditions before using your phone,” the website reads.

Queensland sees drop in crash fatalities

A driver who commented on the woman’s Facebook post pointed out that Queensland motorists can now cop a $1,078 fine and four demerit points for using a mobile phone illegally while driving, and that the state’s “road toll has dropped considerably since”.

Aussie states have seen numerous deaths on roads this year, however Queensland’s crash fatalities have dropped by 20 per cent — 25 people — from January 1 to May 21 when compared to the same time period last year, according to statistics posted by its Department of Transport and Main Roads.

The Queensland Government does allow open and P2 licence holders to touch their phone if it’s in a cradle to accept a call, use navigation apps, skip a song, accept or end a trip as a rideshare driver.

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