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Is it really illegal to use a mobile phone to make a payment in a drive thru? Monique Welch explains the law on this in NSW.

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Using a mobile phone to pay at a drive thru is now legal in NSW

Is using a mobile phone in a drive thru really illegal?

In August 2019 social media was a-buzz after Victorian Police posted on Facebook pointing out it was illegal to pay using a mobile phone in a drive-thru. The story was picked up by media outlets and is being widely reported on.

At the time it was a surprise to most people that using your phone to pay at a drive thru was actually illegal.

Most people questioned the utility in the law operating in this way and hypothesized that the law isn’t keeping up with technology and enforcing it in this way isn’t making any difference to road safety.

Many people believed a drive-thru is private property and so therefore, despite it being a road or road related area, one could not be booked whilst on that property.

Laws updated so that it is now legal

In New South Wales the laws have been changed. You can now use your mobile phone as a payment device provided:

  • Your vehicle is stationary
  • The vehicle is on a road related area; and
  • The phone is being used to as a payment device that requires the body of the phone to be held in close proximity to another device located in the road related area

The Penalties

Beyond this exemption the penalty for using a mobile phone in NSW is a fine of $344 and the loss of 5 demerit points (10 in double demerit periods). Mobile phone detection cameras are also in use as of 2020.

Should you elect to take the matter to court, the fine can be increased to up to $2,200. Also, if you elect to go to court a court attendance notice is filed under the Criminal Procedure Act. If you’re convicted you will be sentenced according to the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act and you may end up with a criminal record.  The legislation is clear on this and so it is always a good idea to speak to an expert traffic lawyer before electing to take a fine to court.

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