Understanding inbuilt device and car screen laws in Victoria

person using navigation interface on infotainment screen in Mazda CX-3 Touring SP


Posted June 05, 2024

Inbuilt devices such as infotainment screens are subject to updated road rules. Do you know the regulations that apply to fully licensed drivers and to Learner, P1 and P2 drivers?

Victorian road rules were updated on 31 March 2023 to help curb driver distraction due to portable devices (like mobile phones), wearable devices (like smartwatches), and in-vehicle (inbuilt) technologies (like infotainment screens), which are covered in this article. 

Device laws have changed to encourage drivers to focus on the road rather than on their devices. VicRoads reports that taking your eyes off the road for two seconds or more doubles your crash risk.

Here’s everything you need to know about inbuilt device laws in Victoria.

Inbuilt devices and car screens: what you need to know

What is an inbuilt device in a vehicle?

An inbuilt device in a vehicle is any information, navigation and/or entertainment system that is built into the vehicle, and cannot be removed like a portable device.

Typically, a vehicle’s infotainment screen handles these tasks. Inbuilt heads-up displays and inbuilt entertainment like radios, cassette players and CD players are covered under inbuilt devices, too.

The new road rules also apply to portable, mountable, and wearable devices while driving a vehicle or riding a motorbike, as outlined by VicRoads.


Kia Sorento infotainment screen

Drivers may only briefly touch their inbuilt device to perform a limited number of tasks. Images: Ben Weinstein

When can I use or touch my inbuilt system?

Drivers on a full licence can briefly touch their vehicle’s inbuilt device to:

  • adjust volume levels
  • play or stream audio material
  • initiate, accept or reject an audio call
  • use a navigation function
  • use a function on the device designed to assist the driver to operate the vehicle 
  • use a function on the device designed to monitor the driver’s behaviour or condition, or
  • carry out a professional driving task.

When can't I use or touch my inbuilt system?

When driving, except when parked, drivers must not:

  • enter information, text, numbers or symbols (unless using voice control. This includes entering an address while using navigation systems)
  • scroll on the device (for example, scrolling through texts, social media, or playlists)
  • initiate or accept video calls
  • display, read or write text messages, emails, or posts
  • display or view websites, social media or photos
  • watch movies, TV, video games or other moving images.


person using touchscreen in car

Driver assistance systems like reverse cameras may be operated by the driver or passenger.

What if I need to operate the inbuilt device for work?

You are permitted to use an inbuilt device to perform the following professional driving tasks:

  • accepting or rejecting a job (for example: rideshare, taxi or delivery drivers)
  • gathering information (for example: freight, delivery or bus drivers, pick-ups or drop-offs)
  • maintaining security (for example: monitoring passengers or livestock in a vehicle) 
  • maintaining safety
  • facilitating passenger movement (for example: operating the doors of a bus).

You still may not scroll or enter information, text, numbers or symbols on the inbuilt device unless you are parked.

What are the rules regarding inbuilt devices for Learner, P1 and P2 drivers?

Learner, P1 and P2 drivers can briefly touch their inbuilt device to adjust navigation settings, climate controls and audio functions (such as the radio).

But that is all. They must not:

  • Scroll or enter information, text, numbers or symbols on an inbuilt device.
  • Use voice controls to operate any inbuilt device.
  • Read or write text messages, emails, message threads or viewing websites
  • Watch movies, TV, video games or other moving images.
  • View social media and photos.
  • Make or accept video or audio calls.

Can I use my inbuilt device if I’m stopped in traffic?

You may not perform unlawful actions on an inbuilt device if you are stationary in traffic, stopped at a red light, or at a stop sign.

To be considered parked, you must pull over to the side of the road out of the line of traffic, be in a parking bay, or be appropriately positioned in a parking area. You may leave the engine running and/or the key in the ignition, as long as you are still in the car and in control of the vehicle.


person operating infotainment screen in Haval H6

Seat adjustment operated through inbuilt devices may only be used when parked.

Can my passenger operate an inbuilt device?

Passengers can operate an inbuilt device under the same rules as a fully licenced driver. They may also scroll or enter information, text, numbers or symbols into the inbuilt device when used for navigation, audio, climate controls, driver assistance systems, safety systems, or professional driving tasks.

Passengers must not use an inbuilt device if it is likely to distract the driver. For example, passengers are not allowed to play or stream videos on an inbuilt device.

What are the penalties for improper device use?

The illegal use of a mobile phone or other device in a vehicle can land you a $555 fine and four demerit points. The fine can reach up to $1,849 if the matter is heard in court.


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