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Driver dodges $1,078 fine: iPhone 'not a mobile phone'

Fine for using mobile phone while driving.
When is a phone not a phone? That was the question before a Queensland judge. (Source: Getty)

A Queensland man who used his phone while driving has avoided a hefty fine. The reason? His iPhone was deemed to be “not a mobile phone” because it couldn’t make calls.

Konrad Gordon Gallaher argued in the Southport Magistrates Court that the iPhone was not a mobile phone because it didn’t have a SIM card in it.

Gallaher, who represented himself, told the court he had two devices in the car at the time - his mobile phone which was mounted on his dashboard, and an iPhone 6, which he was using as a “portable music player”.

Gallaher claimed the iPhone had “no mobile phone functionality” and could not send or receive messages.

After considering the evidence, Magistrate Dzenita Balic said the device was “aesthetically” an iPhone but did not come under the legal definition of a mobile phone.

“A mobile phone therefore must take on its natural meaning. It is a device capable of communication,” Balic said in her verdict.

“Reasonable minds might differ as to the presentation of the device and its possible use but to my mind, paying regard to the nature of the evidence, this was not a mobile phone at the relevant time.”

Balic found Gallaher not guilty, but noted that using the iPhone as a music player was also dangerous.

“I should add that, to me, the use of this device by Mr Gallaher was just as dangerous as the use of a mobile phone,” Balic said.

In Queensland, using a mobile phone while driving attracts a $1,078 fine and four demerit points. It applies even if you are using your phone while stopped at traffic lights or stopped in traffic.

You are, however, allowed to touch your mobile phone for hands-free use, the Queensland government says on its website. For example, if the phone is in a cradle you can use it hands-free to skip a song.

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