Mobile Phones - Demerit Point Penalties In NSW Double For Christmas And Increase In 2016 Photo:
Trevor Collett | Dec, 06 2015 | 0 Comments

New South Wales will add mobile phone offences to its hit list over the Christmas and New Year’s holiday period as part of the state’s now-familiar ‘double demerits’ scheme.

From December 24 this month to January 3 next year, drivers caught using a mobile phone while driving, outside of the current rules, will take a six-point hit to their driver’s licence.

That’s double the usual penalty of three demerit points, and sees mobile phones join seatbelt, drink-driving, drug-driving and speeding offences as the major focuses during the double demerit period.

Six points also represents almost half of the 13-point limit granted to a full licence-holder in NSW, and will result in a guaranteed period of suspension for P2 provisional licence-holders. Learner and P1 provisional licence holders in NSW are barred from using mobile phones in any way while driving.

Furthermore, once the double demerit period is over in January next year, the ‘regular’ penalty will permanently increase from three demerit points to four.

"Next year, when it jumps to four points, it'll be eight points when you're caught (during the double-demerit period)," NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay said, speaking with the ABC.

"Now you might think this is a bit tough [but] I don't give a damn. We're deliberately making it tough."

Mr Gay added that the state’s ‘Get Your Hand Off It’ anti-mobile phone campaign had been a success, resulting in a significant drop in fines issued.

Figures reveal that 32,000 drivers have been issued with infringement notices since the campaign began (accompanied with an increase in fines to $319) compared with 52,000 before the campaign.

"That's why we're going to the next step,” Mr Gay said. “32,000 is still too many, and as we drive around we still see too many doing the wrong thing."

The NSW Government recently announced that its red light and speed cameras have raked in a record revenue haul to date in 2015, despite the state’s road toll currently sitting at 324 compared with 292 fatalities at the same time last year.

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