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Aussies risk $534 fine for common fast-food act

Be careful how you pay when you're getting ready to receive your food.

Man getting food in a drive-thru
You need to be careful how you pay for your fast food during drive-thrus. (Source: Getty)

When you're slowly making your way through a fast food drive-thru, you might be tempted to whip out your phone to pay for your meal. You wouldn't be alone as more than 15 million credit or debit cards have been added to Aussies' digital wallets, allowing you to easily pay for things with your device.

But herein lies a hidden danger as you can get fined hundreds of dollars because you're technically using your phone. Even though you might be stationary and not distracted, Aussie state and territory rules typically don't distinguish between how you use your mobile while driving.

Not only could you have to cough up some serious dough, but you can also lose several demerit points as a result. That's worth being aware of, especially as several states and territories head into double demerit season with the King's birthday long weekend.

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Do you have a story? Email stew.perrie@yahooinc.com

Back in 2019, Victoria Police asked their Facebook followers if they thought using their phone to pay at a fast food drive-thru was okay and nearly two-thirds of respondents (65 per cent) said yes.

But, the force revealed it most certainly wasn't okay and this applies to drivers across the country.

The social media post left a lot of people unhappy and many said they would love to see this rule play out in a real-world situation.

"Are we going to get fined for looking at the menu and not keeping our eyes on the road ahead too?" asked one Aussie.

"Absolutely and utterly pathetic...Revenue raising at its lowest point.. seriously what is the difference between reaching out the window and tapping your eftpos card or tapping your phone?" quizzed another.

A third added: "I like how they've posted this thinking 'hey what a fun way to inform the public of a thing they might not know'. But instead they've just highlighted their own inability to detect and remove ridiculous rules."

This will ultimately depend on where you get pinged by the police:

  • NSW, Queensland, Victoria: Laws have been updated to allow motorists to use their phones at fast food drive-thru locations.

  • ACT: Police in Australia's capital can fine you $470 and take 3 demerit points off your license

  • Tasmania: The country's most southern jurisdiction has the cheapest fine at $336 and 3 demerit points

  • South Australia: This is the most expensive place to get stung as it's a $534 fine and 3 demerit points

  • Northern Territory: It's a $500 fine and 3 demerit points

  • Western Australia: Similar to Queensland, it's a $400 fine and 3 demerit points

In Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales, you are allowed to use your phone to pay for "pay for goods or services".

Victoria Police used to advise motorists moving in a drive-thru to "apply the hand brake, switch the engine off and then access your mobile phone".

South Australia considers drive-thrus to be a "road-related area" and if you don't have your car parked with the handbrake on then you could be breaking the law.

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