If you live in NSW and hold a valid driver’s license, don’t even think about doing any of the following:
3) Sing. Especially not that.
About a week ago, NSW Police pulled over 23-year-old Sydney nurse Sarah Burke on suspicion of using a mobile phone while driving… except she wasn’t talking to anyone – she was, as can happen to the best of us, belting her fucking lungs out to Taylor Swift.
Specifically, to ‘Shake It Off’.
Because cutting loose to bangers on the radio wasn’t illegal last time we checked (or has something changed? Let us know, Mike Baird), Sarah was pretty bloody confused when a police siren signaled her to pull over.
She told PEDESTRIAN.TV:
“I was driving back from my dad’s house in Gosford, going down the M1. I saw a cop behind me and he was signalling to pull over, which I thought was weird because I’m on my P-Plates and I can only do 90, so I always stick to the speed like glue.
“I pulled over, put my window down and was like ‘What did I do’ and the officer said ‘You can’t use handsfree on your P-Plates. I saw you talking and you don’t have a passenger’. Then it occurred to me I was singing very loudly to ‘Shake It Off’.
“I explained that to him and he was going to fine me, which would have meant I lost my license, but then I physically showed him my phone was in my zipped-up bag in the passenger footwell. Then he let me off.”
It is illegal for L and P1 plate drivers to use a phone while driving – that includes answering or making calls (even hands-free), sending or reading text messages, updating social media etc etc – but Sarah’s reckons the reaction was wayyyy OTT.
“I think he was bored and had nothing to do. He was looking for something. Police do tend to pick on P-Platers.”
A NSW Police spokesperson told us they couldn’t comment on how many people get mistakenly pulled over for – and possibly fined – for talking on their phones when they’re actually singing, but they did recommend an action plan should you get slapped with a bogus ticket.
“If you think you’ve been wrongly fined, you have to contest the ticket. But bear in mind that there’s ways to corroborate a person’s story – the police can check phone records to see if someone was on their phone at the time they were claim they weren’t. If an officer has given someone a ticket, though, he’d have to be quite confident it’d stick.”
“Officer, I was singing, I swear!” is *not* a valid defence. Got it.
Photo: Getty / Don Arnold.