Mobile Phone Detection Cameras: Cameras targeting illegal phone use across NSW
In March 2020, mobile phone detection cameras were introduced to target drivers illegally using a mobile phone on the roads.
The fixed or transportable cameras are high-definition, operating day, and night, that capture images of the front seats of all vehicles to detect illegal mobile phone use.
The artificial intelligence software automatically reviews images and detects potential offending drivers and excludes images of non-offending drivers from further action.
Images that are automatically deemed likely to contain a mobile phone offence will be verified by trained personnel. An authorised adjudicator will always check images to confirm that illegal mobile phone use has occurred before issuing a penalty notice.
Section 300 of the Road Rules 2014 (NSW) provides that you must not use your mobile phone while your vehicle is moving or is stationary but not parked.
This includes holding your mobile phone in your hand, even if it is locked and not operating.
You can use your mobile phone to make or receive an audio call or to perform an audio playing function if the phone is secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle or you do not have to physically touch your phone to do so.
You can use your mobile phone for navigation so long as it is secured in a cradle fixed to the vehicle.
You can use your mobile phone to access your digital driver licence only after a police officer has asked you to do so.
You may also use your digital wallet function only if the vehicle is stationary and off the road (carpark, driveway or drive thru).
Different Provisions for Learner, P1 and P2 Drivers
It is important to note that these provisions differ for learner, P1 and P2 licence holders.
If you are a learner, P1 or P2 licence holder you may not use your phone for audio phone calls or audio playing functions.
However, you may still access your digital licence upon request or use your wallet function if necessary.
The fine for illegal mobile phone use is $352, or $469 if detected in a school zone.
There is also a 5 demerit point penalty.
Penalty notices will typically be issued within a week of an offence being committed.
Options if you receive a penalty
If you are caught using your mobile phone illegally, you have three options:
- Pay the fine (and therefore accrue demerit points);
- Request a review of the fine by Revenue NSW;
- Elect to take the matter to Court.
If you decide to take the matter to Court (that is ‘elect’) on the matter, you cannot reverse that decision. Therefore, it is important to know when and why you might decide to take a matter to Court.
Considerations when determining if you should Court Elect
In some circumstances, if you are simply seeking that the fine amount be reduced, it may be best to consult Revenue NSW and enter a payment plan rather than Court elect on a matter. That is because there are several potential consequences if you take the matter to Court.
It is important to note that is you take a fine to Court the maximum penalties that can be imposed by the Court are greater than the fine issued at first instance for the offence.
If you elect to take an infringement notice to Court, the maximum penalty the Court can impose is a fine of up to $2,200.
Impact on Criminal History
If you elect to have the matter heard in Court, you will be required to enter a plea. As the Court will need to record the outcome of the matter, if you plead guilty or are found guilty, the Court may record a conviction.
If you are convicted of the offence the demerit points will also be recorded.
Avoiding a Conviction
The only way to avoid a fine and the demerit points is to:
- Court Elect and be found not guilty, or
- Court Elect, plead guilty and have the offence dismissed pursuant to section 10(1)(a) of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act or be dealt with by way of a conditional release order without conviction under section 10(1)(b).
- Make an application under section 14 of the Mental Health and Cognitive Impairment Forensic Provisions Act 2020 (though this is usually unadvisable in Traffic related matters on the basis a finding made by a Court to finalise a matter in this way may lead to the cancellation of your driver’s licence by Transport for NSW).
Photo: The Macleay Argus