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Driving in Australia: 5 Interstate Rules Will Ruin Your Holiday and What to Do

Aussie drivers already have a tough time keeping track of road rules in their own state, what more when they travel to others? It can become more confusing when heading over to another state, with the rules suddenly changing.

If you feel this way, you aren’t alone! This is a common issue for drivers that travel interstate, usually during holidays. Sure, we can forgive ourselves over a few mistakes, but with this issue, we’re talking about a few hundred dollars in fines, demerit points, and even the risk of causing accidents and having to hire a traffic lawyer Gold Coast!

That’s why it’s crucial to study the different road rules and regulations of the state you plan to visit. Read on to learn the top 5 interstate rules and how to follow them correctly.

Interstate Rules That Can Ruin Holidays

Did you know that in NSW, you can be fined $194 and lose 3 merit points if you drive through a muddy puddle that slashes a pedestrian waiting at bus stops? Or, in Victoria, it’s illegal to tie goats to your vehicle when driving in a public area?

These are odd rules to remember, but they must be learned to avoid hefty fines and demerit points that affect your license and driving privileges. Here are some of the common ones to watch out for:

  1. Tailgating

In NSW, motorists know that there needs to be a 3-second gap (or more) between your car and the one in front of you. If you end up driving behind vehicles too closely to the point you can’t stop safely, then you’re looking at a $457 fine and 3 demerit points. Yikes!

But those from Queensland or Victoria may be fined for tailgating if they’re not careful since the safe driving distance is shorter. Drivers should have a smaller 2-second gap between cars.

  1. Eating or Drinking in Your Car

When in NSW or Victoria, it’s not illegal to have alcohol open in your car, since the legislation on drinking would only apply to drivers. There isn’t a restriction on car passengers drinking alcohol when in the car.

However, in Queensland, the rules state that there should be no open alcohol in any vehicle. Furthermore, the alcohol should be away from occupants.

One thing’s for sure across all states, and that is driving under the influence. No driver should consume any alcohol while driving, regardless of whether or not they are under the alcohol limit.

When it comes to eating behind the wheel, there is a bit of a gray area. Most states do not list this as an actual offense.

But when eating interferes with your driving or causes a crash, you can be charged with careless or negligent driving when in Victoria. Or, you can be charged for not being in control of your vehicle when in NSQ. In Queensland, you’ll face a costly fine because of driving without attention and due care.

  1. Sleeping in Your Car

It is legal to sleep in your vehicle in many states, though this depends on the local government and laws.

For instance, in NSW, it’s illegal to sit on the driver’s seat of a vehicle when attempting to put move the vehicle when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The same goes for Victoria, as it’s illegal to sleep in the front seat of your vehicle while intoxicated.

There are certain councils in NSW and Victoria that have camping restrictions, so it would be illegal to sleep in your vehicle in specific areas. One prime example is in Byron Bay.

In Queensland, you can’t sleep in your vehicle unless you’re parked on designated campgrounds. If you’re in the front seat with the vehicle keys while intoxicated, you’ll be fined for being in charge of a motor vehicle while under the influence.

In Tasmania, South Australia, and Western Australia, it isn’t illegal to sleep in your vehicle but they would have stricter laws when sleeping near beaches and parks.

  1. Leaving Your Windows Open

In most states, it is against the law to leave your car window open. However, there are certain details to this rule that slightly changes with every state.

In Queensland and Victoria, unattended cars should not have windows open over 5 centimeters. A car is considered unattended if the owner is over 3 meters away from the vehicle.

In NSW and Tasmania, it is also illegal to leave the vehicle’s windows open, but this time, the windows can’t be open over 2 centimeters. And yes, it doesn’t matter how hot it is!

  1. Using Mobile Phones

All throughout Australia (and other countries, really), it’s illegal to use your phone while driving. In NSW, you can make a call or send a text with your engine running if you pull over legally and when out of the line of the traffic.

But if you do that in Victoria, you’ll end up with a fine, as the engine should be switched off with your handbrake turned on. Furthermore, you can’t use your phone in a drive-thru except when in NSW. Even if you will make a transaction, you’ll end up being fined up to $484!

Wrapping It Up

Do keep these rules and regulations in mind as you travel interstate in Australia. That way, you’ll be able to avoid those huge fines that will leave you sour throughout your holidays.

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