Many of us are using our mobile phone as our wallet, with devices now playing host to our ID, driver’s licence, credit and debit cards, and more.

    • Using your phone to pay may be legal, but you need to know the rules
    • Don’t drive while holding your phone – wait until you’re stationary
    • State rules vary, so keep that in mind!

    And you may have wondered when you’ve pulled up to pay for your late night fast food run, “am I allowed to pay using my phone?”

    The answer is… it’s complicated.

    In New South Wales, drivers are allowed to “use their phone to pay in a drive-through of a fast food outlet or at the boom gate of a car park”, but the state advises that “strict rules apply”.

    According to a post on the Transport NSW site, a “digital wallet” can be used “as long as the vehicle is stationary and off road, in a car park, drive-through or driveway”. Further, the state says it’s okay for drivers to “access their digital licence on a mobile phone while behind the wheel, if asked to present it by a NSW Police officer”.

    In Victoria, the state has moved on from its earlier stance of “no you can’t” to a more understandable and thoughtful standing on the issue.

    Victorians can conduct “in-vehicle transactions” – including paying for food using your phone at a drive-thru, or using a phone to pay for entrance or to leave a parking area. 

    This is a big shift from the state, which a few years ago posted on Facebook that you needed to stop the car, put it in park, and turn off the engine if you wanted to use your phone for anything.

    The Queensland Government is also in-line with the other states, despite being the nation’s most aggressive anti-phone-use jurisdiction.

    “All drivers can hold their phone when the vehicle is stationary to pay for goods and services at a drive-through, enter an area like a car park, or show a digital driver licence to police,” a post on the state’s StreetSmarts legal outlines page states.

    The South Australian Driver’s Handbook suggests that mobile phones can be used in a drive-thru or parking gantry situation: “You must not use a hand-held mobile phone while your vehicle is moving or is stationary in traffic (for example, at traffic lights). You may, however, use a hand-held mobile phone while your vehicle is parked.”

    The crux of the rules appears to be around the notion of movement. If you are still moving, then you shouldn’t be touching your handheld mobile phone.

    Take the rules on board, and instead of just keeping your foot on the brake at the parking gate or the drive-thru window, put the car in park (or neutral and pull the handbrake on, if you’re driving manual), to ensure you’re being safe. You don’t want that digital wallet and your digital licence to cop it while you’re grabbing your McMuffin, right?

    Not intended as legal advice. Check with the relevant roads authority in your state or territory.

    Matt Campbell
    Matt Campbell is a Senior Contributor at CarExpert.
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