Sending a quick text, checking your Snapchat or just changing songs on your streaming device is about to get way more expensive for drivers in NSW. State Roads Minister Duncan Gay has outlined a tough new plan to increase the demerit point penalties for using your phone while behind the wheel. Getting caught in the state will now cost you almost half the points on your licence in one go.
NSW Licence holders are on a graduated points system depending on their licence class. Learners and Provisional 1 (P1 or red P plate) drivers are given four points, Provisional 2 (P2 or green P plate) drivers get 7, while those on on an unrestricted (full) licence get 13 points.
Previously, the penalty for using your phone behind the wheel was a harmless three points, but Roads Minister Duncan Gay has revealed plans to increase the penalties to four points on the spot. Worse still, the penalty for using your phone while driving will increase to six points on the spot during public holiday periods where congestion on the roads is at its highest. That six-point penalty system will be in force over the Christmas double demerit period (Midnight Wednesday 23 December to midnight Sunday 3 January), while the four-point penalty will come into force from 2016.
Demerit points incurred in NSW stay on your record for 40 months before they stop counting towards a licence suspension. That means if you're caught using your phone three times behind the wheel in three years, you're on your way to the bus stop thanks to a three-month suspension.
Asked if he thought the penalties were too tough, Minister Gay replied bluntly: "You might think this is a bit tough. I don't give a damn. We're deliberately making it tough. But if I save your life, I've done you a favour."
You heard the man. [SMH]