FAQs on mobile phone usage

Can I use a mobile phone while driving?

Learner's permit and P1 licence drivers are banned from using any mobile phone function while driving. 

Except for learner drivers and P1 drivers, a mobile phone may only be used to make or receive a phone call (defined to exclude email, text or video messages) and only if the phone is either:

  • secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle - the mounting must be commercially designed and manufactured for the purpose and attached as the manufacturer intended; or
  • remotely operated - the phone must not be held by or resting on the body (driver’s pocket or pouch excluded) and there must be no touching of the keypad. This is aimed at blue tooth technology, and earpieces and headsets (which themselves may be touched).

If a person wishes to make or receive a call, including dialing a number, and needs to touch the phone (including its keypad) in order to do so, the phone must be mounted.

If the phone is used via blue tooth or a headset or earphones without touching it, the phone may be located anywhere in the vehicle, including in the driver’s pocket or a pouch they are wearing. The driver may touch the ear piece or headset to operate the phone.

A driver’s freedom to use a mobile phone to make or receive calls or any other function of any type if the car is parked (but not stationary in a traffic queue or at lights) is not affected.

It is an offence to create, send or look at a text or video message on a mobile phone while driving.

This may necessitate some people buying mountings for their phones, including Bluetooth if these are not totally voice activated, or buying head sets or earpieces which enable remote operation of their phone.

This rule does not apply to learner's permit and P1 licence holders. These drivers are not allowed to use any type of mobile phone function of any kind while driving. The mobile phone ban includes:

  • using hands-free mode including Bluetooth technology
  • loud speaker operation
  • text messaging.

Can I use my hand held phone on loudspeaker?

If you are not an L or P1 driver you may use a mobile phone on loudspeaker providing that it is secured in a mounting that is commercially designed and manufactured and affixed to the vehicle in the manner intended by the manufacturer.

You can also use loudspeaker if your phone is remotely operated, for example voice activated blue tooth or similar technology or through an earpiece or headset, and the phone is not held by or resting on any part of the body and there is no use of the keypad of the phone.

Do I need to buy a new phone?

No. Drivers do not need to purchase a new phone to adhere to the rule.

A driver who does not have a phone that is able to be operated remotely and wishes to use the phone while driving must have the phone mounted and using the loudspeaker function. Such drivers will need to purchase a mounting and attach it to their vehicle. Simple phone mountings can range in price, starting from around $25, depending on the type of mounting.

This may necessitate some people buying mountings for their phones including blue tooth phones if these are not totally voice activated, or buying head sets or earpieces which enable remote operation of their phone without touching it (touching the earpiece or headset is allowed).

Can I send a text message or email while driving?

No. A driver is not permitted to send a text message or email while driving.

Can I use my phone to make and answer calls if I am parked on the side of the road?

Yes. It will continue to be legal for a driver to make or receive calls and use any other function of any type of mobile phone if the car is parked (but not stationary in a traffic queue or at lights).

Can I rest the phone on my lap and use it on loud speaker?

No. A driver is not allowed to rest or hold the phone on any part of their body. If the phone has to be touched to activate the loud speaker function it has to be secured in a commercially designed and manufactured mounting affixed to the vehicle in the manner intended by the manufacturer. If the phone is remotely activated it can be placed in the driver’s pocket, or a pouch worn by the driver.

Can I dial a phone number on my phone while driving?

A driver can make a call if the phone is remotely activated and doesn’t need to be touched, or by touching the phone or the keypad as long as the phone is securely mounted in the vehicle in a mounting commercially designed and manufactured for the purpose of holding a phone.

Can I answer a call while driving?

A driver is able to answer a call while driving by touching the phone or keypad if the phone is mounted securely in the vehicle in a mounting commercially designed and manufactured for the purpose of holding a phone.

If the phone is not mounted or remotely activated then a driver is not able to answer the call.

Can I continue to wedge the phone between my ear and shoulder if my hands are not touching the phone?

No. A driver is not able to make or receive a phone call if the phone is held by or resting on any part of the body.

What is the penalty for using a hand held phone while driving?

A driver will receive an expiation fee and three demerit points.

Can the police charge me with any other offence if using a mobile phone affects my driving?

Yes. The police are able to charge a driver with the offence of driving without due care or dangerous driving depending on the type of driving behaviour. The maximum court imposed penalty for driving without due care is $2500.

The penalty is also imprisonment for a maximum of 12 months and licence disqualification for not less than six months if the offence causes death or serious harm to a person or is committed while the driver is attempting to escape pursuit, driving disqualified, has a blood alcohol level of .08 or more, is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or is driving 45km/h or more over the speed limit.

The penalties for dangerous driving are even more serious. Neither offence is expiable.

Why has the Government introduced such strict laws on using a mobile phone while driving?

The Government is extremely concerned that too many South Australians underestimate the serious level of crashes caused by inattention, particularly by the inappropriate use of mobile phones.

Further restrictions on L and P1 drivers using mobile phones while driving are now in place.

The Government is committed to reducing road trauma in South Australia and driver distraction continues to be a factor in fatalities and serious injuries.

What does a mounting that has been commercially designed and manufactured mean?

A mounting is a device that has been commercially designed and manufactured to hold a phone and is affixed to a vehicle in the manner intended by the manufacturer.

There are many phone holders or mountings available that are not expensive and are able to be securely fitted to a vehicle.

Will the mobile phone laws in South Australia be the same in other states and territories?

Details on this South Australian amendment will be provided to other states and territories for their consideration.

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