The common driving acts that can land Australians huge fines: Here’s what you need to know
Getting behind the wheel barefoot or wearing slides, thongs or sandals is common especially heading into summer but, if you’re pulled over, can the police fine you?
The law against using mobile phones while driving in Australia is clear but the rules around footwear are a little less well known, as are the restrictions around eating, drinking, applying makeup or vaping while behind the wheel.
Below Daily Mail Australia takes a look at the rules you should know in each state and territory.
Wearing thongs, slides, high heels or going barefoot while driving
It is not illegal to go barefoot while driving in all states and territories and some drivers even claim it allows for better control as a driver can feel the pedals with more accuracy.
There are also no laws against driving in stilettos, work boots, thongs, or slides but there are is one major catch.
Police can fine a driver if they determined they are not in proper control of their vehicle.
This is especially applicable if the driver was involved in a collision.
Driving while barefoot is not illegal in any state or territory but police have the discretion to fine a driver if they deem they are not in proper control of their car
Inappropriate footwear that could catch on pedals, such as thongs, excessively large heels or taking off shoes and leaving them where they could interfere with the pedals are just some examples
Under Road Rule 297 (1), which applies in every state and territory, drivers are required to ‘maintain proper control of their vehicle while driving’.
So if your footwear or bare feet prevent you from keeping proper control of a vehicle, you could be in for a very serious fine.
In NSW, the fine comes to $481 and three demerit points, but this rises sharply to $603 and four demerit points if the offence happened in a school zone.
In Victoria, drivers face a $387 fine and three demerit points for the same offence.
In Queensland, the Transport and Main Roads department reminded people that eating or drinking while driving can also cause ‘serious’ distraction to drivers.
‘You can be fined $575 and three demerit points if you don’t have proper control of your vehicle – or if you’re driving without care or attention,’ the department wrote on Facebook.
‘So make sure you’re not one-handing the wheel or taking your eyes off the road to eat. It’s best to pull over in a safe spot to savour that sandwich!’
The fine for the same offence is even higher in Western Australia – with drivers forced to fork out $600 should they commit the offence, making for a very expensive meal.
The same goes for motorbikes and scooters with only a helmet legally required though for safety reason appropriate footwear should always be worn.
Eating or drinking behind the wheel
Again, similar rules apply for those snacking while driving.
It is not specifically illegal, cars have cupholders for a reason, but if police determine it has impacted a driver’s ability to have control over their vehicle they can issue a fine.
For example in 2018, a hungry teenage P-plater was fined $300 after she was pictured eating a bowl of cereal while driving on a Perth road.
A woman was fined in Perth in 2018 after she went viral while munching cereal while driving on a busy Perth road
A photo of her taken by a 6PR radio listener and appeared to show the young woman steering the car with her knees.
The ‘cereal offender’ also got three demerit points.
Consuming alcohol while behind the wheel is another matter entirely and drink driving laws apply.
Applying makeup or vaping
If a driver is distracted while driving or not paying attention to the road and other cars around them then they can expect a hefty fine if spotted by police.
Applying makeup in the mirror while in a moving car is also likely to attract a fine
Applying a bit of lipstick or puffing on vape isn’t likely to draw attention so long as a driver doesn’t take their eyes of the road.
But carefully applying eyeliner in the rearview mirror or unboxing a vape could land them in hot water, even if temporarily stopped in a traffic jam or at lights.
In short, while there are no rules making any of this illegal it is up to the discretion of the police office as to whether a driver is in proper control of their vehicle.