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Aussies stunned after Police say you can't use phone at drive-thru

Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 13 August 2019, 5:36PM
The law has stunned many Australians. (Photo / Getty)

Last week Victoria Police posed a simple question to their Facebook page that caused a major stir among drivers.

They asked people to vote on whether it was legal to use your phone to pay when going through a fast-food outlet’s drive-through.

More than 55,000 people have now voted in the poll, with 65 per cent believing it was perfectly fine.

But the majority of motorists were astounded when the police revealed it was an offence that carried a hefty $484 fine and four demerit points.

 “If you intend to use your mobile phone to pay at the drive-through window, apply the handbrake, switch the engine off and then access your mobile phone,” Victoria Police said.

News.com.au then confirmed this rule applied across all states and territories in Australia.

This revelation came as a shock to many drivers, with a few branding it “ridiculous” and “outdated”.

It also sparked a series of questions from confused social media users, with the most common relating to digital licences.

NSW is trialling a digital driver’s licence in parts of Sydney, Albury and Dubbo, with the technology to be rolled out statewide later this year.

“So when the digital licences come out is that an offence to hand it to a copper as well?” one person asked.

NSW Transport told news.com.au the law regarding the use of a mobile phone while driving was amended in 2018 to clarify it is not an offence to use your phone to show your digital licence as long as you do so after being instructed to by a police officer.

“A driver who accesses their digital driver’s licence on their phone before they are requested to do so by police is committing an offence,” a NSW spokesperson said.

Doing this can result in a $344 fine and the loss of five demerit points.

South Australian residents have had the opportunity to use a digital licence since 2017 through the mySA GOV app.

The advice around how to legally show your licence to an officer when in a car is the same advice that was offered when asked about how to pay using a phone in a drive-through.

“To use a mobile phone, of which holding one is considered use, you must have your vehicle in a condition in which it is not able to move by itself,” Inspector Cynthia Healey from the SA Traffic Support Branch said previously in a statement to news.com.au.

“SA Police recommend that the vehicle is out of gear with the handbrake on and parked in a safe location and switched off before using the mobile device.”

Queensland is working to introduce a digital licence app, with plans to trial it in a regional area later this year.

Queensland Transport and Main Roads told news.com.au appropriate law amendments would be considered when the digital licences were rolled out.

“Any associated legislation with the introduction of digital licences will take into consideration the use by motorists,” a Transport and Main Roads spokesperson said.

They added enforcement of the law was up to the Queensland Police, and if a driver is pulled over, it is recommended they put the vehicle in park, put the handbrake on and follow the officer’s instructions.

The other question the drive-through rule raised was whether you could also be fined for leaning out of the car to pick up your food.

One of the many social media users who raised this question said: “So are drive thru customers going to be fined for having their arm out the window paying for or collecting their meals while the engine is still on and hand brake off.”

According to NSW Transport, it is illegal for a person to travel in a motor vehicle with part of their body outside the window or door. This rule applies when the vehicle is both moving and stationary.

Drivers breaking this law in NSW face a $344 fine and the loss three demerit points.

If a passenger is caught with part of their body outside the car, both the passenger and driver can be fined.

The only time drivers are legally allowed to have a body part outside the vehicle is when they are “giving a hand signal for changing direction, stopping or slowing down”.

Given this information, it would seem the same advice of turning off the car and applying the handbrake also applies when leaning an arm out the window to grab your order.

“Enforcement of the NSW road rules is a matter for the NSW Police Force,” a NSW Transport spokesperson said.


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