Driving While Using The Phone Will Now Land You In Court

From 6 July onwards, driving while using the phone is considered a non-compoundable offence. 

The Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) has announced that driving while using a mobile phone is now considered a non-compoundable offence and offenders will have to settle the summons in court. 

This new ruling was announced (quietly) on Saturday on the various social media channels run by the PDRM.


Apparently in effect since 6th July, which was a month ago, being caught in the act of using a mobile phone while driving by the PDRM will incur a fine of RM 1,000 or a jail term of no longer than three months. 

A repeated offence will incur a fine of RM 2,000 or a jail term of no longer than six months, or both. This new ruling also applies to motorcyclists who are on the phone while riding. 

Driving while using the phone is an offence under Rule 17A, LN166/59 of the Road Traffic Rules 1959 which states that driving while using a telephone or any radio communication device is an offence. 

To clarify, driving while on the phone has always been an offence under the eyes of the law. The change here is that said offence is now considered a non-compoundable offence. Meaning that if caught, you will also need to attend a court hearing in addition to paying a fine. 

Non-compoundable offences, like what driving on the phone now is considered under, are usually reserved for more major traffic violations like driving without a valid license or driving on the emergency lane without a valid reason. 

Compoundable offences meanwhile are offences to which only a summon is issued on the spot. These offences are usually lighter and more straightforward in nature, like running a red light or making an illegal u-turn. In cases like these, the offender only has to pay a fine, without having to appear in front of a judge. 

Based on the statement issued by the PDRM, many drivers and riders on the road are still using their mobile phones while on the road, and this offence is one of the contributors to the number of road accidents happening every day. Reading between the lines, this new change would hopefully deter more people from driving (or riding) while on the phone. 

That being said, there could be another reason for why this offence is now being categorised as needing a court appearance because the umbrella category of being on the phone now is has gotten very vague in this era of smart phones. What used to be either calling or texting could now be adjusting the Waze or changing the song on Spotify. 

In addition to the number of screens already in new cars, more and more auto makers linking the phone with the car as seen by the proliferation of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration into the infotainment systems, thus the lines between what is considered by ‘using the phone while driving’ has been blurred somewhat. Which could possibly be the reason why the police would rather the offender deal with the summon in court instead of by the roadside. 

To be safe though, the best advice would be to fiddle around with all these things before you set off on your journey. That way, the hassle of going to court to settle this minor dispute can be avoided. 

Joshua Chin

Automotive journalist. Professional work on and Personal writing found at Instagram: @driveeveryday

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