Using a phone whilst driving rules & penalties
A driver of a vehicle, can only touch a mobile phone to receive and terminate a phone call if the phone is secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle. If the phone is not secured in a mounting, it can only be used to receive or terminate a phone call without touching it (e.g. using voice activation, a Bluetooth hands-free car kit, ear piece or headset).
It is illegal for the driver of a vehicle to create, send or look at a text message, video message, email or similar communication, even when the phone is secured in a mounting or can be operated without touching it.
GPS may be used by a driver whilst driving if no touch of the keypad or screen is required.
The same rules apply to all road users.
The information available on our website provides a simple interpretation of the law and is not intended to constitute legal advice. Full details of traffic offences and penalties are contained in the Road Traffic Code 2000.
|Offence from 1 September 2020||Penalty||Demerits|
|Touching or holding a mobile phone while not in a cradle to make, receive or end a voice call.||$500||3|
|Creating, sending or looking at a text, email, social media, photo, video or similar.||$1000||4|
Mobile phone penalty amendments
The State Government has amended Regulation 265 of the Road Traffic Code 2000 to increase penalties for the illegal use of mobile phone by a driver, rider or cyclist in Western Australia from 1 September 2020.
The amendments also allow drivers of on-demand transport vehicles to touch a phone being used as a dispatch system from 1 September 2020.
New mobile phone amendment
Is it legal to use a mobile phone while driving? What are the new penalties for illegal use of a mobile phone by a driver, rider, or cyclist?
A driver or cyclist is permitted to touch a mobile phone that is securely mounted to the vehicle or bicycle to accept or end a phone call. Any illegal use will result in an infringement, and for those driving a vehicle, a demerit point penalty as well.
Why have the penalties increased in Western Australia?
From 1 September 2020, drivers caught holding or touching their phone while not in a cradle to make, receive or end a voice call will receive an increased penalty of a $500 infringement and three demerit points.
A higher penalty of a $1000 infringement and four demerit points will apply to drivers who create or view a text or video, use video chat, use other function or app on their phone that can result in a high level of driver distraction.
Will I get double demerit points if caught on long weekends or during holiday periods?
The State Government has increased penalties for illegal mobile phone use while driving, riding, or cycling to reduce road trauma due to driver distraction and inattention.
Inattention as a factor in fatalities in WA has increased in recent years, with 31 fatalities (19%) recorded in inattention related crashes in 2019. This was a 48% 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.
Double demerit points apply to drivers and motorcycle riders convicted of a mobile phone offence on legislated long weekend and holiday periods in Western Australia.I drive an on-demand transport vehicle. Can I touch my phone while driving on the job?
Demerit points do not apply to cyclists caught using their phone illegally.
I work for a food delivery company. Do the amendments apply to me?
These amendments allow drivers of on-demand transport vehicles to touch a phone securely mounted to the vehicle to accept, confirm the start of or decline a job ONLY. However, they are NOT permitted to touch their phone for ANY reason if they are travelling:
- in a school zone during the school zone activated period;
- on the freeway;
- on a road with a speed limit of 80km/h or more; or
- in a SLOMO or slow down, move over situation, where a vehicle must slow down to 40km/h to pass an emergency response vehicle with lights activated parked on the side of the road.
Drivers of on-demand transport vehicles must NOT touch the phone to use any other function on the phone, including other actions within their dispatch app.
No, these amendments ONLY apply to drivers of on-demand vehicles that are for the carrying or intending to carry passengers. On-demand food delivery drivers or riders are not permitted to touch their mobile phone if it is being used as a dispatch system for an on-demand food delivery company. If you are caught touching your phone while riding or driving to deliver food to a customer, the new penalties will apply.Can I use the map app on my mobile phone while driving or riding?
All drivers are permitted to use their mobile phone as a navigational tool, but only if the phone is placed in a mounting secured to the vehicle and the route is set and started before driving or riding commences. If you touch the phone while driving to change the function of the navigational app, even when secured in a mounting, you face a $1000 infringement and 4 demerit points.Can my passenger use their phone?
As long as the driver is not touching the phone at any point and the passenger’s phone use is not visible to the driver and likely to cause distraction, then the passenger may use their phone.Are UHF/CB radios subject to the same laws?
Are the mobile phone laws the same for novice drivers?
The Road Traffic Code 2000
specifies that a CB radio or any other two-way radio is not considered a mobile phone and therefore is exempt from the stipulations and penalties associated with that regulation.
The same rules apply to all drivers, including L and P plate drivers.Can I still use my GPS?
All drivers are permitted to use their mobile phone as a navigational tool, but only if the phone is placed in a mounting secured to the vehicle and the route is set and started before driving or riding commences.When is a vehicle considered to be parked?
If you touch the phone while driving to change the function of the navigational app, even when secured in a mounting, you face a $1000 infringement and 4 demerit points.
In general, Police consider a vehicle parked if it is off the road, not in the line of traffic and is stopped where it is both safe and legally permissible to park. i.e. having the handbrake on while in a traffic jam would not be considered being parked for the purpose of this regulation.Can I still make calls using Bluetooth?
Specifics about the engine being on/off or keys in ignition are not incorporated in these regulations.
Yes, if the phone is not secured in a mounting, it can only be used to receive or terminate a phone call without touching it (e.g. using voice activation, a Bluetooth hands-free car kit, ear piece or headset).Do these laws apply to NAVMAN, TomTom navigation systems etc?
The mobile phone regulations only apply to mobile phones.
Designated navigational devices are considered ‘visual display units’ and are encompassed by regulation 264 in the Road Traffic Code 2000