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You could be fined for paying with your phone in a drive-through

Paying at drive through window

drive through

Police say you need to stop and turn off your car if you plan to tap and pay.

While paying with a smartphone has been wholeheartedly embraced by many Australians, it could lead to a fine if done in a drive-through. As reported by the ABC, Victoria Police received backlash online for a Facebook post which said drivers could receive a fine of $484 and lose four demerit points for paying with their smartphone in a drive-through.

"If you intend to use your mobile phone to pay at the drive-thru window, apply the hand brake, switch the engine off and then access your mobile phone. In doing so, you are not considered driving," Victoria Police said in the post.

Contactless payments rely on near-field communication (NFC) technology and can be made using any device or card that is NFC-enabled. In recent years, the number of devices and cards that allow contactless payments has increased significantly. Most consumers can now choose to add their cards to their choice of mobile wallet, including Apple Pay and Google Pay, while also tapping and paying with a variety of devices such as their smartwatches or even payment rings.

The majority of comments on the Victoria Police Facebook post were frustrated with the law not having kept pace with how Australians are using their phones.

"The phone communication is an ancillary portion of the mobile computer in my pocket. It does 100's of things other than being a phone. At the time I use it to pay its a credit card," read one commenter.

"Picking up my phone to tap and pay is no different to me going through my wallet and getting out my card or cash to pay," said another.

Road rules around mobile phone usage are Australia-wide but there are variations between states. For example, NSW Transport does not mention using your phone to make a payment specifically in its guidance on mobile phone usage. It only says you cannot hold your phone in any way, including when stopped in traffic, unless you are passing it to a passenger.

The Victorian state guidance prohibits all mobile phone usage that involves physically touching the phone but also does not mention using the phone to make payments specifically.

Speaking to the ABC, Inspector Cynthia Healey said drivers should use their handbrakes and switch their cars off if they want to tap and pay with their smartphones.

"A drive-through, as well as car parks, is considered a road-related area as it is an area open to public which is used for driving or parking vehicles," she said.

"Therefore, this rule applies when using mobile devices to pay for food at drive-throughs."

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