Joshua Blom Lawyers

Mobile Phone Detection Camera

Mobile Phone Detection Cameras

Mobile phone detection cameras are on the rise in New South Wales. They are not signposted and are quite often mobile, and moving around. If you use your phone unlawfully while driving your chances of getting caught are quite high. 

In a matter of months the number of people electing to take their mobile phone tickets to court has increased substantially. So substantially that the Roads and Maritime Service has added a day to the court list in places like Parramatta and Campbelltown solely to deal with the offence of using a mobile phone while driving.

How do Mobile Phone Detection Cameras Work?

Currently, it appears that Mobile Phone Detection Cameras take photos of everything, and everyone going past. Photos are then screened by a computer program. Any photographs then not excluded by the programs are reviewed by an individual.

In theory, this should mean that if you are holding a coffee cup or cigarette rather than a mobile phone – a human should catch the error before an infringement notice is issued to you.

Our experience to date is that the system has not been perfect and the human screening the photographs often do not screen out people holding legal items.

Five Demerit Points

Not too long ago the parliament increased the number of demerit points applicable from 3 points to 5 points.

If you take the matter to court the increase in demerit points tells the court that this offence is a serious one and one that is worthy of punishment. 

Not only does the court have no power to reduce the number of demerit points but the court also cannot take into account that you might lose your licence as a result of paying the fine and taking on those five demerit points.

The law says that the court cannot just give people non- conviction orders in order to avoid the operation of another statute. In this case it means that the court can’t just give you a non-conviction order because taking on those five points may mean that you lose your licence.

Taking it to court

Taking a ticket for using a mobile phone to court can be a difficult experience. 

Because the offence is so common and so prevalent the court gives a lot of weight to general deterrence. That is, stopping others from committing the same offence. The theory is that if a punishment is imposed at court, people will stop doing it.

It is always best to speak to an experienced traffic lawyer before submitting a review or electing to go to court.

In most cases once an electin to go to court has been made it cannot be undone or withdrawn. 

At court the maximum fine is $2,200 and the court must impose a conviction if they are imposing a fine. If the court imposes a conviction and fine, you will also receive the demerit points. 

What can't Learners P1 or P2 drivers do with their phones?

  • Make, receive or engage in an audio call, regardless of whether it is being held by the driver or not, hands-free, or is affixed in a cradle.
  • Operate any function of the phone at all, regardless of whether it is being held by the driver or not, hands-free, or is affixed in a cradle.

The most common mistakes Learners and P-plater drivers make are:

  • Playing music through the car’s stereo,
  • Using headphones to interact with the phone (making calls, dictating sms)
  • Looking at anything displayed on the phone
  • Reading an SMS without touching the phone
  • Using the phone as a GPS in a cradle,
  • Checking the time,
  • Turning the phone on or off
  • Sending anything from the phone even if you don’t touch or look at the phone
  •  

What's not illegal for Learners, P1 or P2 drivers to do?

It is not illegal for Learners, Provisional 1 and Provision 2 licences holders to:

  • Find somewhere to park safely, then operate the phone,
  • Give the phone to a passenger in the vehicle

It is currently not clear in the law whether or not drivers can be fined for passengers using their phones. Police may have tried to issue the fines, but whether or not the court has a different view is yet to be seen. 

What can an Unrestricted licence holder do with their phone while driving?

Things that are legal are:

  • Making or receiving audio calls, providing the phone is:
    • Secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle, OR
    • Is not being held (includes resting on a body part) and does not require the driver to press or manipulate anything on the body (the part containing the majority of the mechanisms) of the phone.
  • Performing an audio playing function, such as music, GPS audio navigation, audio books, podcasts, providing the phone is:
    • Secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle, OR
    • Is not being held (includes resting on a body part) and does not require the driver to press or manipulate anything on the body (the part containing the majority of the mechanisms) of the phone.

You can also use your phone if it’s:

  • Being used as a visual display for the purposes of a drivers aid AND the phone is secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle.
  • Being used by voice only, entering information into the phone.
    • For example “Hey Siri”
  • Being held to pass to a passenger in the car
  • In a vehicle that is stationary on a road, or road related area, and the phone is being used as a payment, coupon or voucher, or security key to enter a road, or road related area such as a carpark.

 

What's Illegal for Unrestricted licence holders?

  • Typing and sending an sms, even if the phone is in a cradle
  • Looking at something displayed on the phone including an SMS or email, even if displayed as a notification briefly
  • Turning the phone on or off
  • Facetime calls
  • Watching or listening to YouTube
  • Browsing Facebook, Instagram or anything else on the phone or in an application.

Want to discuss your mobile phone fine?

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