Mobile phone GPS: P-plater loses court battle over a very common driving habit
A P-plater has lost her driving license after being fined for using her mobile phone as a GPS.
Chiqui Eseque was stopped by NSW Police on May 20, 2022, after officers noticed her car's headlights were not turned on.
Officers noticed her phone was placed in a hands-free phone holder in her car and a map was displayed on the screen.
Learners and provisional driver's license holders are not allowed to use their phones at all while driving under NSW law, even if it is just for directions.
The law catches many drivers because there are no restrictions on drivers with an L and P plate using a GPS device on the dashboard.
A P-plater has lost her driving license after being fined for using her mobile phone as a GPS
Eseque was accused of using a cell phone while driving.
However, she fought the charges arguing that she was only using the phone for directions and that there was no SIM card in the phone.
Magistrate Hugh Donnelly found Eseque not guilty of the charge as the phone could not make or receive calls as it was not connected to a mobile network.
“I think in this case I have to accept that the definition of a mobile phone can simply be nothing, there has to be some limitation on what the expression means,” Magistrate Donnelly said.
'This is a case where there were indications on the phone itself that there was no SIM card present.'
However, the ruling was overturned after the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) appealed the decision in December, taking the case to the NSW Supreme Court.
Judge Monica Schmidt ruled last week that Eseque broke the law, even though the phone did not have a SIM card.
Learners and provisional driver's license holders are not allowed under NSW law to use their phones at all while driving, even if it is just for directions
“No communication ability is required for a user to be able to view everything that can be displayed on such a telephone, as the rules recognize,” Judge Schmidt said.
“It cannot sensibly be concluded that a mobile phone becomes a mobile phone only when a SIM card is inserted into it, and ceases to be a mobile phone when such a card is removed.”
Eseque was ordered to pay the DPP's costs.
Drivers in NSW could be fined $387 and lose five demerit points for illegal use of a mobile phone.