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New penalties for drivers caught using phone will kick with fines DOUBLING in one Australian state

Australian motorists will now pay a heavy price if they are caught using their mobile phone behind the wheel. 

From midnight on Monday fines more than doubled in Western Australia, with drivers now facing a $1,000 penalty if they are caught messaging or using video chat.  

The new legislation is a $600 increase from the previous penalty and four demerit points will also be deducted.

However, those caught touching their phone at the lights or holding it to make a voice call will be hit with a $500 fine and a loss of three demerit points.

From midnight on Monday fines more than doubled in Western Australia, with drivers now facing a $1,000 penalty if they are caught messaging or using video chat (stock image)

From midnight on Monday fines more than doubled in Western Australia, with drivers now facing a $1,000 penalty if they are caught messaging or using video chat (stock image) 

Western Australian drivers are still legally allowed to answer calls but only if their phone is securely mounted to the vehicle.

The WA Road Safety Commission said the state government chose to increase the fines after almost 12,000 residents were caught using their phone behind the wheel last year.

‘Inattention as a factor in fatalities in WA has increased in recent years, with 31 fatalities (19 per cent) recorded in inattention related crashes in 2019,’ it said.

‘This was a 48 per cent increase compared to the preceding five-year average of 21.

‘The new penalties are some of the toughest in Australia, to deter drivers from reaching for the phone while driving putting themselves and other road users at risk.’

But the opposition hit back claiming the different fines were confusing.

Shadow Minister for Police Peter Katsambanis said ‘one simple message and one simple penalty’ is needed. 

The new legislation is a $600 increase from the previous penalty and four demerit points will also be deducted

The new legislation is a $600 increase from the previous penalty and four demerit points will also be deducted

‘The government’s two-tiered approach is going to add more confusion,’ he said. 

The new penalties are now matched with Queensland, with the two states now sharing the toughest mobile phone laws in the country.

In February Queensland introduced a new law that upped fines to $1,000 with a loss of four demerit points.

Anyone in the Sunshine State caught using their phone twice in one year will be at risk of losing their license.

However, those caught touching their phone at the lights or holding it to make a voice call will be hit with a $500 fine and a loss of three demerit points

However, those caught touching their phone at the lights or holding it to make a voice call will be hit with a $500 fine and a loss of three demerit points

The penalty for using a phone while driving is $337 and five demerits in New South Wales, while in South Australian drivers are slapped with a $308 fine, a $60 Victims of Crime levy and three points.

The fine for the same offence is $484 in Victoria and $577 in the ACT. 

The Northern Territory has the most lenient laws, where using a mobile will cost you three demerits and a $250 fine.

MOBILE PHONE FINES BY STATE 

 WESTERN AUSTRALIA:

Messaging, using an app or on video chat:

Fine: $1,000 

Demerit Points: 4

Caught holding the phone while on a call:

Fine: $500

Demerit Points: 3 

SOUTH AUSTRALIA:

Fine: $554

Demerit Points: 3

TASMANIA: 

Fine: $300

Demerit Points: 3

 NEW SOUTH WALES:

Fine: $344 ($457 in a school zone)

Demerit Points: 5

QUEENSLAND:

Fine: $1,000

Demerit Points: 4

VICTORIA:

Fine: $455

Demerit Points: 4

AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY:

Fine: $447

Demerit Points: 4

 NORTHERN TERRITORY:

Fine: $250

Demerit Points: 3    

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