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I just received a $534 fine for using my mobile phone whilst driving. It’s so expensive, can it be right?

 

The short answer is yes. The South Australian Government recently announced a raft of increases to fines for offences relating to speeding, mobile phone use and drink or drug-driving. These penalties took effect on 01 July 2019.

Motorists caught using a mobile phone while their vehicle is moving or stationary in traffic (for example, at traffic lights) will now be issued with a $534 fine, up from $334, which represents a 59.8 percent increase.

The soaring fines are in response to the state government’s budget black hole created by more than half a billion dollars in lost GST revenue. A horror year on the state’s roads is also a contributing factor to the increased penalties. In the first six months of 2019 there have been 60 fatalities and a further 243 serious injuries due to motor vehicle collisions. This represents a significant jump in the state’s road toll compared to the same period last year. Handling mobile phones whilst driving is widely considered a reckless distraction which can increase the risk of a crash by a factor of four.

A mobile phone can only be used:

  • While your vehicle is safely parked in an authorised space with the engine turned off;
  • If the driver is an on-duty police officer or emergency services worker;
  • If, while driving, it is secured in a hands-free mount which does not obstruct the driver’s view; and
  • If, while driving, it is connected via Bluetooth without touching it.

If you believe you have a valid reason to challenge a fine, it is important not to pay the fine and to contact Scammell & Co. to discuss your options.

Ursula Matson
Senior Solicitor
Police & Traffic Matters | Criminal Law | Child Protection Law

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