mobile phone penalties WA

New penalties for using your mobile while driving

Mobile Phone Penalties WA

With almost 12,000 West Australians caught using their mobile phone illegally while driving last year, the state government has now more than double the fines and demerit points to discourage drivers from breaking the law.  We now have the toughest such penalty in the whole country to help curb the road trauma usually caused by driver distraction and inattention which has caused accidents and even deaths on our roads.

What does this mean for drivers and motorcyclists?

Before, you would have been hit with a $400 fine and three demerits if caught using your mobile phone while driving.  From September 1, you can only touch your mobile phone to receive and terminate calls while driving if it’s securely mounted to your vehicle.  If your phone isn’t securely mounted to your vehicle, it can only be used to receive or terminate calls through voice activation, a Bluetooth hands-free car kit, earpiece or headset. Otherwise, you’ll attract a $500 infringement and three demerit points if caught holding or touching your phone while driving, even when stopped at the lights.

You’ll cop a $1000 infringement and four demerit points if caught reading or sending a text or email, using video chat, creating or viewing a video, using social media or any other app or functions on your phone. You’re not allowed to do any of this even if the phone is secured to your vehicle or even if the phone can be operated without being touched. The GPS app on your phone can be used while you’re driving as long as you don’t touch your phone. Be sure that your phone is securely mounted to your vehicle before you touch it. This way you keep your eyes on the road and avoid putting yourself and other road users at risk.

Rules for on-demand transport drivers

If you’re driving an on-demand transport vehicle such as an app-based booking service or a taxi, limousine or charter vehicle, then the rules are a bit different.

You’re allowed to touch the phone that you’re using as a dispatch system. But you can only do this to accept, confirm the start of or decline a job. You’re not allowed to touch your phone to use any other function on it, including other functions in the dispatch app. You’re also not allowed to touch that phone AT ALL when you’re driving:

  • in a school zone during the school zone activated period
  • on the freeway
  • on a road with a speed limit of 80km/h or higher
  • in a situation where you’re required to slow your vehicle down to 40km/h as you approach emergency vehicles that are displaying flashing lights at an incident and,
  • where safe for you to do so, move to the next lane.

What about long weekends or holiday periods?

If you’re convicted of a mobile phone offence while driving during a legislated long weekend or holiday period in Western Australia, then double demerit points apply. 

But I know people who do it all the time!

As professional driving instructors, we don’t recommend copying others, especially the person teaching you to drive. Just because they seem to get away with it doesn’t mean you should try it. 

Apex Driving School recommends that from the get-go you develop the best driver habits and behaviour that make you a safe and smart driver. Not just so you can avoid fines and demerits, but so you and others can get to your destinations safely. Good driver behaviour saves lives.

If you have any questions about mobile phone use and how to use yours safely while driving, ask your driving instructor when you book your next driving lesson.