Mobile phones, speeding and other infringements
There are lots of rules about driving and what you can (and cannot) do when you are on the road. Many of these rules are enforced by the police issuing an infringement notice, rather than charging you with a traffic offence in court. Infringements are often given for speeding, going through red lights or stop signs, not wearing seatbelts, or using a mobile phone while driving. Infringement notices can also be given to pedestrians and cyclists if they break road rules.
The penalties imposed by infringement notices are usually much less than the amount that can be imposed by a Court. Infringement notices impose a fine and may also include demerit point penalties for some traffic offences.
The penalties for using a mobile phone while driving increased on 1 September 2020.
The information on this page explains:
- what kinds of offences are dealt with by infringement notices
- what you can do when given an infringement for a traffic offence
- where you can find more information about traffic infringements.
What offences are dealt with by infringements?
There are lots of different road rules and traffic offences. Not all of them are dealt with in courts. Traffic infringements can be issued for offences such as:
- some drink-driving offences where the penalty does not include mandatory licence disqualification
- speeding offences
- the driver or passengers not wearing seatbelts, or children not being in a proper child restraint
- motorcyclists or passengers not wearing helmets
- not leaving safe distance when overtaking cyclists
- failing to slow down and move over when going past emergency response vehicles at a traffic incident, and
- failing to stop at red-lights or stop signs, or failing to give way.
What are the rules about using mobile phones whilst driving?
A driver of a vehicle, motorcycle or push bike can only touch a mobile phone to receive and terminate a phone call if the phone is secured in a fixed phone mount. If the phone is not secured in a mounting, it can only be used to receive or terminate a phone call if that can be done without touching the phone (for example, using voice activation, a Bluetooth hands-free car kit, ear piece or headset).
It is illegal for the driver of a vehicle to create, send or look at a text message, video message, email or similar communication, even if the phone is secured in a mounting or can be operated without touching it.
GPS or map navigation on a phone may be used by a driver whilst driving as long as it is in a mounting fixed to the vehicle and they do not need to touch the keypad or screen.
There are special rules for on-demand passenger delivery drivers about how, when and where they can use a mobile phone as part of accepting, starting or rejecting jobs.
On 1 September 2020, the penalties for using a mobile phone whilst driving increased.
A summary is available by clicking on the infographic 'New mobile phone penalties', and more detailed information is in this resource: Infosheet - Mobile phones, visual display units and driving.
What penalties are imposed for traffic infringements?
The penalties for traffic offences that are dealt with by infringement notice are set by legislation. They are called modified penalties and are usually lower than the penalties that apply if the same matter could be dealt with by a court. Many offences just have a penalty of a fine. Some have a penalty of a fine and a number of demerit points.
For some traffic offences, the amount of the fine and the number of demerit points imposed are doubled if the offence is committed during a double-demerit holiday period.
Even if the offence is dealt with by an infringement notice, you may still end up losing your licence. This could be because your licence:
- is suspended because you have accumulated too many demerit points,
- is cancelled because you have committed a number of alcohol or drug related traffic offences within a 5 year period, or
- is suspended by the Fines Enforcement Registry because you have not paid the infringement.
What are my options when I get an infringement notice?
You have 28 days to pay the infringement (or arrange for more time to pay it), or to try and challenge it. If you don't pay or have a payment arrangement in place, the infringement will be registered with the Fines Enforcement Registry. Unpaid infringements can result in a Licence Suspension Order being made against your licence.
More information is available under the webpage on Infringement notices.
Road Safety Commission
- Road rules and penalties
A section dedicated to road rules and penalties for many traffic offences that can be dealt with by infringement notices, including the new rules about mobile phones, as well as where to find more information about other traffic offences.
Department of Transport
- Driver rules, penalties and infringements
Information about licence offences, as well as a number of driving offences that can be dealt with by infringement notice.
Reviewed: 1 September 2020