2007 - 2017

MOBILE PHONE USE- Know the rules  - Copy and paste the link into your browser

Research shows that being distracted when driving, such as by a mobile phone, increases the risk of a crash. Simply taking your eyes off the road for longer than two seconds, doubles the risk of a crash. A short lapse of concentration can have lifelong consequences.

See how far you travel when you take your eyes off the road for just two seconds:

Our original Get your hand off it campaign has evolved to highlight the serious consequences of using your mobile phone illegally while driving, which could cost you or those you care about everything.

We have adapted the successful 'Are you driving blind?' mobile phone distraction campaign launched by the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads in March, 2015.

The campaign also encourages drivers to know the rules about mobile phone use.

Dangerous problem

Crash data from 2010 to 2014 showed there were 236 crashes where hand-held mobile phone use by drivers was identified as a contributing factor. This included seven fatal crashes and 116 injury crashes. These crash numbers are considered to be under-reported because of the difficulty of finding evidence of illegal mobile phone use at crash scenes. This suggests the size of the problem could be much greater.

From July 2014 to June 2015, more than 35,300 fines were issued to drivers in NSW for using hand-held mobile phones, showing the problem is still prevalent.


Primary: Males and females aged 17-39 years. Secondary: All NSW drivers.

Research shows that males and females aged 17-39 years have the highest rate of claimed use while driving, and the greatest involvement in crashes where hand-held mobile phone use is a factor.

Main messages
  • Get your hand off it: There's no excuse
  • At 60 km/h if you look at your phone while driving for just two seconds, you travel 33 metres blind

The Get your hand off it campaign  includes a 30-second television advertisement, as well as two 15-second radio advertisements to reach drivers. The campaign is supported with advertising on buses and taxis.  

The Top 10 misunderstood road rules in NSW outlines the road rules most commonly misunderstood by road users.

The Top 10 guide provides simple answers to many road rule questions, including how to indicate at a roundabout, when to use high-beam and fog lights, and when it is permitted to make a U-turn at traffic lights. The guide is also available at Service NSW and RMS registries.

Road users more aware

From February 22 to 28, road users are encouraged to phone the Roads and Maritime Services contact centre on 13 22 13 to have their questions answered. Road safety experts help provide advice on even the most complicated enquiries quickly and clearly.
Road users can also visit the Roads and Maritime Services website to view the NSW Road Users' Handbook.

Road Rules Awareness Week provides an annual opportunity for drivers to refresh their knowledge of existing rules and learn details of new or changed rules. It also allows pedestriansmotorcyclists, passengers and cyclists to better understand the rules and improve their safety on or near the road.

Road Rules Awareness Week
Alcohol and drugs

The laws in NSW limit the amount of alcohol you can consume if you are driving a vehicle. It is illegal to drive, attempt to drive or instruct a learner while affected by drugs.
Alcohol. The laws in NSW limit the amount of alcohol you can consume if you are driving a vehicle.

. Legal limits Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) must be under the limit as shown in the table. Heavy penalties apply for driving with a BAC on or over the limit. Note

Some foods and medications may contain alcohol which can register in a breath test, for example chocolates, cough lollies and mouthwashes. Always read the ingredients first.

BAC limits

As a learner and provisional driver, you must not drive after you have consumed any alcoholic drinks or foods containing alcohol.

This table shows the BAC limits for all licence classes. You must stay below these limits.

Know your limit

NSW has three blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits:  zero, under 0.02 and under 0.05. The limit that applies to you depends on the category of your licence and the type of vehicle you are driving.

Your BAC measures the amount of alcohol you have in your system in grams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. A BAC of 0.05 means you have 0.05 grams (50 milligrams) of alcohol in every 100 millilitres of blood.

Zero BAC applies to all:
  • Learner drivers or riders
  • Provisional 1 drivers or riders
  • Provisional 2 drivers or riders
  • Visiting drivers or riders holding an overseas or interstate learner, provisional or equivalent licence

Learner, P1 and P2 drivers and riders are developing their driving skills. They have a zero alcohol limit because they are more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol than experienced drivers. If you are on a zero alcohol limit, you must be alcohol-free while driving or riding. This doesn’t stop you from having fun, it just means you can’t drive or ride after drinking any alcohol.

If you have been drinking, Getting back to zero explains how long it can take to get alcohol out of your system. 

Check product labels for alcohol content

Some medicines, mouthwashes and food may contain alcohol. You should check labels for alcohol content (sometimes called ethanol). All products containing alcohol can affect your BAC.

If you are going to drive, avoid these products. Otherwise you may not be able to convince a court that you didn't have an alcoholic drink or another substance for the purpose of consuming alcohol.

Religious observance

If you have a BAC limit of zero and you are caught driving with a BAC above zero, but below 0.02, and you can prove to the court that you had the alcohol as part of a religious ceremony, this will be a defence.

Under 0.02 applies to:
  • Drivers of vehicles of "gross vehicle mass" greater than 13.9 tonnes
  • Drivers of vehicles carrying dangerous goods
  • Drivers of public vehicles such as taxi or bus drivers

A BAC of 0.02 can be reached after the consumption of only one standard drink (a middy of beer, a nip of spirits or a small glass of wine). Drivers subject to a 0.02 limit should not drink any alcohol before driving.

Under 0.05 applies to:
  • ALL other licences (including overseas and interstate licence holders) not subject to a 0.02 or zero limit
  • Under 0.05 is the legal limit for most drivers
Don’t risk trying to calculate your BAC

Trying to calculate your BAC is impossible. Your BAC begins to rise as soon as you start drinking and can continue to increase for up to two hours after you have stopped drinking. Counting standard drinks to guess your BAC is difficult and often inaccurate because:

  • Alcohol concentrations vary between drinks, such as light beer (2.5%), full strength beer (5%), wine (14%) and spirits (40% or higher)
  • Beer may be served in schooners, middies and schmiddies.  Wine glasses vary in size from 100ml to 280ml or more
  • Drinks are often ‘topped up’ so it's impossible to know how many standard drinks you’ve had
  • Drinks come in non-standard sizes – many pre-mixed drinks sold in bottles or cans may contain more than one standard drink and 800ml bottles may contain three standard drinks
People are different

Alcohol also affects people differently. Two people who drink the same amount can have different BACs. This is caused by factors such as:

  • Size and weight – a smaller person will have a higher BAC from the same amount of alcohol
  • Gender – a woman the same height and weight as a man, drinking the same amount, will have a higher BAC
  • Liver function – an unhealthy liver will process alcohol slower than a healthy liver
  • Recent consumption of food – lack of food in your stomach means you will absorb alcohol into your blood faster. However, eating food after you have been drinking will not reduce your BAC
  • Fitness, fatigue and general health condition – your BAC can be higher if you are not feeling well, you are tired, stressed or unfit

We recommend that you don’t drink any alcohol if you plan to drive. Alcohol affects different people in different ways and attempting to guess your blood alcohol concentration is difficult and inaccurate.

Blood alcohol limits

Drugs, legal and illegal

It is illegal to drive, attempt to drive or instruct a learner while affected by drugs.

Drug testing

Police will arrest you if they suspect you are driving while impaired by drugs. You will be taken to a hospital to give samples of blood and urine for drug testing.

In the event of a crash where someone is admitted to hospital, blood samples are taken which may be tested for drugs.

Medicines and over-the-counter drugs

Many prescription and some over-the-counter medicines may make you unfit to drive. They can affect your concentration, mood, coordination and reactions as a driver.

Do not drive while taking medicines with a warning label that tells you not to drive.

Medicines that affect driving
  • Some pain killers
  • Medicines for blood pressure, nausea, allergies, inflammations and fungal infections
  • Tranquillisers, sedatives and sleeping pills
  • Some diet pills
  • Some cold and flu medicines.
Beating the odds

Younger drivers face many challenges when learning the complex task of driving a vehicle. With their inexperience, they also face a higher risk of danger. Despite making up only about 15 per cent of all drivers, younger drivers represent more than a third of annual road fatalities.

The Safer Drivers Course helps learner drivers identify risks on the roads. Speed management, hazard awareness and safe following distances are some of the strategies in the course’s theoretical and practical sessions, which earn learner drivers 20 hours of log-book credit.

Licence conditions has details of some of the restrictions that apply to learner and P-plate drivers.

Our P1/P2 vehicle search lets provisional drivers find the types of cars that they are allowed to drive.

The Restricted P1 Provisional licence pilot allows learner drivers in selected areas west of the Newell Highway to drive to work, education and medical related appointments.

Learners in these areas can apply for a Restricted P1 licence after they have finished 50 hours of on-road supervised driving (including at least 10 hours of night driving).

A zero alcohol limit applies to all learner and provisional licence drivers. L and P platers must not consume any alcohol before driving.

NSW Centre for Road Safety

Distance defeated
Restricted P1 Provisional licence for selected areas west of the Newell Highway

Under 25-year-old learner drivers living in Brewarrina, Walgett, Bourke, Broken Hill, Balranald and Hay can now apply for a restricted P1 Provisional licence so they can drive to work, education and medical related appointments.

Learners in these areas will be able to apply for the restricted P1 Provisional licence after they have completed 50 hours of on-road supervised driving (including at least 10 hours of night driving), with these hours recorded in their log books.

After you have completed six months on the restricted P1 Provisional licence, the restricted conditions will automatically expire and standard P1 licence conditions will apply for the rest of the P1 period.

The restricted P1 licence will be piloted for two years and allows young people living in remote areas wider access to health, education and work opportunities.

What does the restricted P1 licence offer?
  • You only need to complete 50 hours (instead of the normal 120 hours) of on-road driving experience.
  • After you have completed six months on the restricted P-plate licence, you will automatically go on to a regular red P-plate licence. You will only need to be on this for a minimum of six months before you can apply for your green P-plate licence.
  • You can carry passengers if you are driving for health, education and work purposes, but note that regular red P-plate night-time passenger restrictions apply.
Safer limits build confidence

Special licence conditions apply for young drivers within NSW. These include speed restrictions, passenger numbers, vehicle types and laws against using mobile phones. The conditions and restrictions that apply to learner or provisional licence holders do not change when they travel outside NSW. You night also have other licence conditions, such as wearing spectacles or contact lenses when driving.

Watch your speed
  • Learner and provisional P1 drivers must not drive faster than 90 km/h
  • Provisional P2 drivers must not drive faster than 100 km/h
  • Learner or provisional drivers who speed by more than 30km/h over the limit face immediate suspension and licence confiscation by police
  • Learner and P1 drivers penalised for speeding (four demerit points) will lose their licence for at least three months
  • P2 drivers will lose their licence for at least three months if they are penalised twice for speeding
Vehicle restriction laws

P1 and P2 drivers are banned from driving high-performance vehicles that have:

  • Power to tare mass ratios of greater than 130kW per tonne or,
  • Modified engines that need to be approved by an engineer or,
  • Other high performance classifications

You can find approved vehicles in our P1/P2 vehicle search.

The Roads and Maritime Services website has more information on prohibited vehicles.

Passenger limits for P1 and P2 drivers

P1 drivers under 25 are not permitted to drive with more than one passenger under 21 between the hours of 11pm and 5am. P1 or P2 drivers who are issued with a new licence after a period of being disqualified from driving, will for 12 months only be allowed to carry one passenger.

The Roads and Maritime Services website has more information on passenger conditions.

Zero blood alcohol

All learner and provisional drivers must have a zero blood alcohol limit. Learner and provisional licence holders cannot consume any alcohol before driving. If you have a big night out, you may still be over the zero limit the next day.

Mobile phones

Learner, P1 and P2 drivers must know the rules on mobile phone use. Learner and P1 licence holders must not use a mobile phone at all while driving. This includes phones in the hands-free mode, with the loud speaker operating or sending text messages. Learner and P1 licence holders must be parked out of the line of traffic to use a mobile phone in any way.

From 22 January 2016, learner and P1 drivers penalised for illegally using a mobile phone (four demerit points) will exceed their demerit point threshold and face a three-month licence suspension.


Learner drivers must not tow a trailer or any other vehicle and are not permitted to drive any vehicle that is being towed. P1 drivers must not drive a vehicle that is towing any other vehicle (whether or not a trailer) having a mass of more than 250kg unloaded.


Learner, P1 and P2 drivers can only drive a vehicle that has a seatbelt fitted to the driver’s seat. You cannot carry more passengers than there are passenger seatbelts fitted to the vehicle and all occupants must wear the seatbelts correctly when travelling.

Automatic vehicles

P1 licence holders who passed their driving test in an automatic vehicle (including vehicles with an automatic clutch actuator) will be restricted to driving automatics. This condition remains until you are issued with a provisional P2 or unrestricted licence. To remove the condition earlier, you must pass a driving test in a manual vehicle.

Displaying L and P plates

All learner and provisional drivers must clearly display their L and P plates on the front and back of the outside of the vehicle – the letters must not be hidden. Learner drivers can have their licence suspended if they drive unsupervised.

Driving and riding in other states

NSW learner, P1 and P2 drivers and riders must obey the same licence conditions and restrictions (as listed above) that apply to them in NSW when they drive or ride in other states or territories in Australia.

This ‘home conditions’ rule also applies to novice drivers and riders around Australia when they drive or ride in other states or territories.

Licence conditions

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