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‘Bloody ridiculous’ tap and go rule could see Aussies fined $484

Lucy Dean
Pictured: Person paying with mobile phone tap and go at drive thru, Australian cash. Images: Getty
Are you guilty of this $484 misdemeanour? Images: Getty

You’re heading off on a road trip with your friends and you realise, it’s time for some coffee and a bacon and egg McMuffin.

But you’re about to make a huge, $484 mistake.

Using your mobile phone to tap and go at the drive-thru is considered an offence, and one that will cost hundreds of dollars and four demerit points, Victoria Police has confirmed.

In a Facebook poll, Victoria Police asked its followers to answer this question: “When using a fast-food outlet’s drive-thru service, can I use my phone to pay?”

More than half (65 per cent) of the 53,000 voters thought they could, but they were wrong.

“Using a handheld mobile phone while driving carries a $484 fine and accrue four demerit points,” Victoria Police said.

“If you intend to use your mobile phone to pay at the drive-thru window, apply the hand brake, switch the engine off and then access your mobile phone. In doing so, you are not considered driving.”

New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the ACT have similar laws, with fines varying from $250 to $484.

It’s a rule that’s been described as “bloody ridiculous” by drivers.

One follower of Victoria Police asked if that meant they could turn their car off at traffic lights and then use their phone, while another said using a mobile device to pay is “part of living in this day and age”.

Others said that if they didn’t use their phone to pay it would be stealing, while others expressed shock that this was the law even when inside the boundaries of a fast food restaurant.

“If this is illegal, the law needs to be reviewed,” one person said.

“You can't seriously argue that using a mobile phone to pay for the food is too dangerous, but leaning out of the car window (often with both hands) to collect your food, drinks, whatever, is fine.”

When can you use your phone in the car?

Fully-licensed Australian drivers can use their phone to answer a call, play music or act as a GPS navigation system, but only if the phone is in a cradle fixed to the car and not obscuring the road. The phone also has to be voice activated, or operate of Bluetooth so the driver doesn’t have to touch it to use it.

And the same goes for your passengers.

A Sydney driver was fined $337 because her passenger was using FaceTime in June this year.

As the road rules law states, “A driver must not drive a vehicle that has a television receiver or visual display unit in or on the vehicle operating while the vehicle is moving, or is stationary but not parked, if any part of the image on the screen:

(a) is visible to the driver from the normal driving position, or

(b) is likely to distract another driver."

That means that even if a driver isn’t using the phone, or participating in the FaceTime call, they can still be stung if the screen is pointing in their direction.

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