Using a mobile phone has its time and place. By introducing increased penalties, the Queensland government is reinforcing its view that neither the time nor the place for phone use is while you are driving a motor vehicle on Queensland roads.
The law regarding the use of a mobile phone in Queensland is that a driver of a motor vehicle is not permitted to use a mobile phone that the driver is holding in their hand while the vehicle is moving or stationary but not parked. A vehicle is considered to be parked if it has been stopped and allowed to stay, whether or not the driver leaves the vehicle.
The Transport Operations Regulation in Queensland regards “using” a mobile phone to include:-
- turning your phone on or off;
- holding a phone next to your ear;
- writing, reading or sending messages;
- using social media or using any other function of the phone.
As of 1 February 2020, the penalties for illegally using a mobile phone while driving a motor vehicle will increase from a $400 fine and three demerit points to a $1,000 fine and four demerit points. This should be of interest to probationary and provisional driver licence holders as one offence would result in them being issued with a notice of accumulation of demerit points and having to choose between a driver licence suspension or 12 months good driving behaviour period.
Any subsequent repeat mobile phone offence committed within 12 months of the first offence will also attract double demerit points and would result in an open driver licence holder being issued with a notice of accumulation of demerit points.
The $1,000 fine also extends to bicycle riders, however they will not incur the demerit points.
These increases in penalty will result in Queensland motorists facing the highest penalties in Australia for using a phone illegally whilst driving.