New Mobile Phone Detection Cameras are Rolling Out Across NSW
Here is what you should know:
After receiving much attention in the media, the mobile phone detection cameras are now up and running across New South Wales. Drivers caught using their phone while driving will receive a warning letter for the first three months, however as of March 2020 the penalties include hefty fines, loss of demerit points and potentially loss of licence.
The NSW Government has rolled out these mobile phone detection cameras as part of its larger goal of reducing serious injuries and road fatalities on NSW roads. It is well known that the risk of a car collision significantly increases when drivers use a mobile phone while driving. The RMS Centre for Road Safety reveals that over a six month trial period between January and June 2019, 100,000 drivers were caught using their phone.
The new cameras are able to detect drivers at any time of day, in all weather conditions using their mobile phone. There are both fixed and on transportable cameras. The cameras will take a photo of all drivers using a mobile phone and that photo will later be checked by an authorised individual to confirm that it is, in fact a mobile phone.
In addition to the new cameras being installed across regional and metropolitan areas, NSW Police will continue to give penalty notices to people caught using their phones while on the road.
The penalty for using a mobile phone while driving includes a $344 fine ($457 if in a school zone) and 5 demerit points. During double-demerit periods, this means a loss of a whopping 10 demerit points.
The loss of 5 demerit points will mean Learner and P1 licence holders will receive a 3 month licence suspension from the RMS. P2 and unrestricted licence holders may exceed their demerit point limit and subsequently have their licences suspended. A licence suspension can have a big impact on a person’s ability to work or care for their family. For example, tradespeople rely on their licence to get their tools across various sites, parents need to drive their kids to school and public transport might generally not be an option in some areas.
If you are a P1 or P2 licence holder and you have been suspended for exceeding your demerit points, you are eligible to appeal your suspension to the Local Court. The Court may allow your appeal (that is, you will not be suspended), disallow your appeal (you will be suspended) or reduce the suspension period.
If you have an unrestricted driver licence, you cannot appeal a suspension for exceeding your demerit points. However, you can:
- Apply for a good behaviour period
If you have an unrestricted NSW drivers licence and you have received a notice of suspension due to exceeding your demerit points, you may elect to have a 12 month good behaviour period.
This means that you will not be suspended and you can continue to drive, however you must be of good behaviour for 12 months.
If you incur 2 or more demerit points over these 12 months, your original suspension period will be doubled. For example, if your Notice of Suspension was for 3 months, you will be suspended for 6 months.
You can elect a good behaviour period online through the Service NSW website. This must be done before your suspension period has begun.
Learner or provisional drivers cannot elect a good behaviour option.
If you are already serving a good behaviour period, you cannot apply for another one.
- Elect to have the penalty notice determined at Court
If you have received a penalty notice for a traffic offence, you can elect to have it dealt with by the Local Court.
You will need to plead guilty or not guilty to the traffic offence. If you plead guilty or are found guilty, a Magistrate may use their discretion and not convict you. This means that you will not have a criminal record and you will not incur any demerit points. This may mean that your licence will not be suspended.
In determining whether to give you a non-conviction, the Magistrate will consider a number of things, including:
- Your need for a licence
- Your traffic history
- Whether you are of good character
Be aware that if you elect to have a matter heard by the Court, the maximum fine increases to $2,200 so it is important to get legal advice as early as possible.
If you require legal advice in relation to a penalty notice, licence suspension or any serious offence, do not hesitate to contact John Vizzone, Partner or Isabelle Worrad, Solicitor at Vizzone Ruggero Twigg Lawyers on (02) 9667 1271.