New South Wales Police Minister Troy Grant has said he was unaware holding a mobile phone while in the driver's seat of a car is illegal, after handing himself in to police for posting a photo to Twitter where he was doing just that.
The Nationals MP for Dubbo claims he has learnt his lesson after being fined $325 and losing four demerit points for snapping a quick photo of a sheep in the back of a car stopped at roadworks on the Newell highway near Dubbo on Saturday.
Heading home on the Newell stopped at upgrade works and then saw this. A ewe in the back out on a Saturday drive! pic.twitter.com/MBjHvFNaxr— Troy Grant (@troygrant) March 18, 2017
"This serves as a massive reminder, nobody is above the law even if you are the Police Minister, even if you have to ring up and dob yourself in to get a ticket," he said.
"If that is what it takes to continue to ram home the message, then that is what I am prepared to do. I didn't know that what I was doing was against the law."
The Minister also claimed he was at no risk of being distracted while on the road when taking the photo, but that the act of handing himself in should remind NSW drivers that the use of a mobile phone while stationary or moving is an offense and carries significant penalties.
In NSW, it is only legal for fully licensed drivers to use a mobile phone for calls, music and navigation services if the phone is fixed in a cradle to the inside of a vehicle and can be operated without needing to be touched. Texting, emailing and taking photos and videos are only permitted when a person's car is parked with the engine off out of the line of traffic.
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