Fine for phone use while driving increases to $150

People will face a $150 fine for using their phone while driving from April 30. File photo.

The infringement fee for using a mobile phone whilst driving will increase from $80 to $150 on April 30.

Transport Minister Michael Wood says too many people are still picking up there phones while driving.

“Police issued more than 40,000 infringement notices for this offence last year,” says Wood.

“Driver distraction is a serious road safety issue, and inattention — including from mobile phones, can have tragic consequences.

“Between 2015 and 2019, there were 22 road deaths in New Zealand and 73 serious injuries where drivers were distracted by a mobile phone.

“This is likely to be under-reported as it can be difficult for police to detect phone use when they attend crashes,” Wood says.

“Increasing the infringement fee to $150 means it will now match similar offences. This is our way of saying Kiwis need to take this seriously, and put away the phone while driving.

“I’ve had a lot of correspondence from stakeholders urging the Government to increase the fee — I’ve listened and I hope this underlines to New Zealanders the serious and potentially deadly consequences of driving while on the phone.

“Safety is one of our top transport priorities. As part of our Road to Zero plan to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads by 40 per cent, we will begin reviewing all road safety penalties this year to make sure they are fit for purpose.”

Only four per cent of infringement notices are issued to those aged 19 years or younger. However, between 2015 and 2019, 44 per cent of fatal crashes where a mobile phone was a distracting factor had a driver aged between 15 and 19 years old.

Using a mobile phone while driving will continue to attract 20 demerit points — accumulating 100 demerit points from driving offences within two years results in a loss of license for three months.

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@Groutby and the Prof

Posted on 17-04-2021 13:34 | By morepork

I don’t think confiscation alone is enough. It implies the possibility to have the device returned. If it is destroyed on the spot, in front of the owner, that is irrevocable. No good bleating about how your life depends on your phone, or the essential services you need to be able to access. Should have thought about that before you used it illegally and put my life and my family’s life at risk. The people who are worst offenders will sit up and take notice if they know that the penalty is destruction of their phone. I don’t see any other penalty being effective. It is not expensive to have a hands-free cradle fitted to your car and most modern vehicles have a plug for phones anyway. You can use voice-to-text if you need to. There is no excuse for "hands-on" usage...

What do you want?

Posted on 17-04-2021 13:24 | By morepork

That people stop using hand-held phones while driving? Fines won’t do it because it’s "only money"... Doesn’t matter whether it is $150 or $1500. There will always be some who believe "I don’t care; I can afford it if I’m caught." Anyone caught doing this should have their phone confiscated and destroyed, on the spot, in front of the person concerned. Then it’s not "just money" it is personal data as well and might make some more people think about fitting hands free to their vehicles.

Illegal Weapons

Posted on 17-04-2021 10:56 | By Yadick

If I have an illegal weapon in my vehicle it would be confiscated by Police. The mobile phone is not the weapon but by using it whilst driving my car becomes a weapon (quite possibly of mass destruction) so confiscate the car and impound it for 28 days. It can be done for sustained loss of traction etc so why not do it for self entitled mobile phone users too. When you see logging truck drivers using their phones driving down Hewletts Road - bloody appalling. Let them keep their phone so they can ring the boss and explain it.

This change is...

Posted on 17-04-2021 10:28 | By groutby

...just another nice and easy ’at the stroke of a pen’ rule to bring in from our government who are quite happy to do the ’easy stuff’ without having to plan , implement and resolve the ’real’ issues out there....we all know what they are. No it isn’t a bold enough move, a much higher instant fine would be more appropriate and possible suspension of licence for repeat offences. We start getting into some quite awkward ’legal stuff’ I would say if we were to confiscate the ’phone though much as I agree with the concept. For many it would make it virtually impossible to work, ’health’ issues etc ... and there would be application for exemptions/requests for returns all over the place further cluttering the justice system. I reckon the damage/injuries/deaths are far higher from ’phone use whilst driving than Mr Wood reckons

Mobile use

Posted on 16-04-2021 22:45 | By CliftonGuy

Forget about the fine. Even if it were $1,000, the best line of action would be to confiscate the phone in question. That will scare the bejeesus out of most mobile users - losing all key contacts, apps and internet connection.


Posted on 16-04-2021 18:02 | By Let's get real

Public service in the armed forces and then straight into the police service runs throughout my family. Let me assure you that I’m extremely conversant with police activities and know full well how policing activities work. Another tool in their toolkit, that can be used to shake the fruit from the tree. But increasing the fine is not a policing activity, it’s a political statement and this one is an act of desperation.


Posted on 16-04-2021 17:37 | By Slim Shady

The Professor is correct. It’s a token gesture, kept to a minimum so as not to upset their voter base. Labour are not interested in saving lives at all. All the “be kind” “team of 5 million” is just fake claptrap.

Still to cheap...

Posted on 16-04-2021 16:35 | By WestieMum

..still not a deterrent. Every day going to work and coming home, there will be someone in front or beside me looking at their phone. I love their reaction when they are in front and stopped at traffic lights, if I get their attention and point to my dashcam their eyes usually stay on the road ahead from there on. And in one particular dangerous instance I reported it, time/date/location/rego and dashcam footage. Police can’t be everywhere, but there are more dashcams out there. Use them and the evidence they provide. And yes, so many women, but plenty of blokes too. $150 really is pathetic, needs to be an amount that will hurt and make people think about picking up that mobile phone.


Posted on 16-04-2021 12:53 | By Stevo

I drive a van and every time I stop at the lights, I look down into the car next to me and I can guarantee I will see someone using their phones (normally texting). About 80% of them are female and approx 1/2 of that lot would be in the 25 - 40 age group.


Posted on 16-04-2021 12:23 | By Davy

Should be at least $1000 and should have been increased years ago

Let's get real

Posted on 16-04-2021 11:50 | By AndreaAk0

With a husband who is a police officer in Tauranga, it is natural for them to see people on their phones and to pull them over at that point. I’m sure that you yourself would have seen someone doing it while driving. There are no "using phone while driving" police deployed. In the Police there are many different areas that they can work in. There are officers who are PST (Public Safety Team), they respond to the priority events, they are the ones that will attend your 111 calls. There is also Road Policing, they’re our Highway Patrol guys who have to attend these horrendous accidents, you can’t begin to imagine the things my husband has seen, some caused by phone use. There is an alcohol group who do the bars, booze bus etc. So don’t worry about resources. Our men and women in blue are doing amazing work s

Still too soft!!

Posted on 16-04-2021 11:44 | By The Professor

Phones should be confiscated - that would really sting, especially if it’s a company phone and the person caught then has to explain to their employer why they no longer have a phone.

Virtue signalling for no gain

Posted on 16-04-2021 11:20 | By Let's get real

How many police staff are going to be put on mobile phone patrol...? And if they’re on mobile phone patrol, does this mean that there are no other criminal activities taking place on that day...? Unfortunately it’s just something else that this government is using to pretend that they’re doing something now that they can no longer hide behind the covid crisis.

Great News

Posted on 16-04-2021 11:05 | By Yadick

This is great news. Personally I would’ve liked to have seen a $180 - $200 fine just to make it really sting but this is still good. Now we just need a blitz in Tauranga to absolutely nail it home.

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